Submitted by the Rotary Club of Dalton
Cross Plains Community Partners is the organization that you previously knew as Cheerhaven. It began in 1957 to serve adults in our community who have developmental disabilities.
Originally, these were facility-based services, serving participants only at the facility. Debbie Conway, executive director, stated, “Now, they are community-based with partners throughout the community. The partners assist with employment, volunteering and connecting to the community.”
The basic service is to transition these adults from at-home or in the facility to being productive people in the community. Although the numbers fluctuate, Cross Plains is now serving 95 people.
Elizabeth Hunter, director of Project Search, explained that this Cross Plains project is supported employment for adults. Their positions may be in retail, manufacturing, nursing homes or with any other partner in our area. Some of the student, young adult interns serve at Hamilton Medical Center during their last year in high school in food services, supplies, laundry and environmental services. Following this year, Cross Plains assists them in finding employment.
Another focus of Project Search is with Shaw Industries, serving young adults who are out of high school. They participate in rotations in computer-based work, print services, warehouse, human resources, recycling and other departments as an intern. This helps them to obtain a great set of skills, after which 75 percent of the interns have success in getting jobs.
Those participants who can’t get full-time employment serve volunteer hours at other organizations like the Boys & Girls Club or at a horse farm, the Salvation Army, or do projects for others. One group collected toys for more than 100 disadvantaged children this past Christmas. Serving others is very rewarding for them, as it is with anyone else.
Some participate in the Heart Program, utilizing personal skills even though they may not be able to hold a typical employment. One example is a man with autism who has exceptional artistic skills and is able to sell his art, telling his own story through art.
This very successful and effective nonprofit organization depends on financial support from our community. Its main fundraising event will be the May 18 Grizzly Trail Run. But it also needs more partners where the adults can volunteer, have employment and find opportunities to become productive. Feel free to call Cross Plains to assist in any way.