WISH LIST: Columbia Industries starting day program for disabled adults

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 26, 2013 

-- Editor's Note: This month the Herald is featuring a series of stories on the Holiday Wish Lists of Mid-Columbia nonprofits and how you can help.

Columbia Industries is known for its work to help disabled people build their job skills.

But in the new year, the nonprofit is delving into a new area. It's starting a day program for disabled adults, providing education and enrichment opportunities.

"It's not just come and hang out. It's come and hang out and learn and grow," said Cheri Buchanan, employment and retention consultant.

And although Christmas is over, Columbia Industries leaders are hoping Tri-Citians still in the giving spirit will provide donations to help get the program off the ground. Needs include furniture, a van to take clients on field trips and volunteers.

The Kennewick-based Columbia Industries, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, helps hundreds of clients a year, providing community-based job placement as well as training and employment through some of its own operations, such as the Shop CI thrift store.

It's seen its state funding for training drop, leading to a reduction in hours and leaving a void for some clients and their families.

That's where the day program comes in. "We're responding to try to come up with a program opportunity that not only helps the family but also provides an enrichment opportunity for the client," said Rich Foeppel, president and chief executive officer.

The program will be open to the community and won't be limited to existing clients.

Officials envision the day program including field trips to libraries and other sites, as well as classes on topics such as cooking and finances. "If you have an expertise in anything that you would like to share, then we are interested in figuring out a class so that you can come in and share that," Buchanan said.

Furniture also is needed, namely long tables for crafts and playing games, chairs without rollers for tables, couches, bookshelves, TV sets and computers for classes.

Other items on the wish list include cooking utensils for classes, games, books and craft items, as well as a van for transportation.

Foeppel said the hope is for the day program to start in the spring.

For more information or to help Columbia Industries with the new program, call 582-4142, ext. 119 or email cherib@ columbiaindustries.com.

The nonprofit's website is at www.columbiaindustries.com.

w Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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