Abilities Richmond
News





New Announcement!! Abilities Richmond is now accepting Medicaid Waiver Clients!! We accept clients for :
Community Habilitation
Facility Habilitation
Prevocational Services
Supported Employment Follow-along
Please call for an appointment to visit our site and learn about our programs!

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***We have moved to a new location
220 S. 5th Street Richmond, IN 47374***


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Tami Johnson Founder of Abilities Richmond has been chosen for Citizen of the year for Wayne County Indiana in October, 2010
***----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Tami Johnson Founder of Abilities Richmond has been chosen for Citizen of the year for Wayne County Indiana in October, 2010.

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We made the local paper, below is the article....


New Richmond thrift store stresses workers' abilities

Non-profit's owner will hire disabled, such as her son

Tami Johnson looks at her oldest son, Matthew Borges, and sees his abilities -- not his disabilities.

She sees a sweet, movie-loving, hip-hop-listening young man with a strong work ethic and a longtime girlfriend.

It just happens that Matt has Down syndrome.

The 26-year-old and others like him are inspirations for the new non-profit thrift store that is appropriately called Abilities.

It opened Nov. 9 at 821 E. Main St. straight across from Tom's New York Deli in downtown Richmond.

The casual store is far more chic than cheap. Clothes are draped over chairs and posts in an attractive, uncluttered way. There are mirrors and signs, a boutique area and a couch for relaxing.

Another noticeable difference will be the employees. "I'm going to hire young adults with disabilities, provide real jobs," she said.

She aims to have 10 or 15 employees within a year. They will each do what they can -- run the cash register, sort clothes, answer the phone and wait on customers. They will earn minimum wage.

Johnson's endeavor is applauded by Kathy Parker, special education supervisor for Richmond Community Schools, who visited recently to drop off bags of donated items.

"There are very few good job opportunities for our disabled students," Parker said. "I like the idea of quality of life and a future of quality employment and independence."

The back of the large building is bursting with sacks of clothes and other donated items that all have come by word of mouth. Customers will find variety in the store but not overused throwaway items. The store has games and shoes and music.

"It's a treasure hunt every day," said Johnson, who is a mother of five, ranging from 10 to 26.

She would like to get more furniture and has been put on the lookout for items. One 83-year-old customer wants to find a pair of size 81/2 roller skates like she used as a young woman.

Matthew and his girlfriend, Amy, help to fold clothes and organize the donations. Amy also is a young adult with Down syndrome.

"These two together are workers," Johnson said.

"I like it a lot. I like hanging out," he said about working at both places.

To the chagrin of his country-music loving mother, Matthew has a different taste in music.

"I want to be a rapper," he said with a big grin.

Amy's favorite songs are "Amazing Grace" and "Victory in Jesus." Soon, the couple sit down to rest and hold hands on the couch in the center of the spacious store. He said they met while attending Richmond High School and have been dating for six years.

"Seven years," Amy quickly reminds him.

They celebrate anniversaries every Saturday by attending a movie.

They have seen "G-Force" three times and can't wait for "Old Dogs" to arrive Wednesday.

"Matthew has expensive tastes -- first-run movies," says his mom.

Johnson started dreaming about opening the store three years ago. She has poured her time and money into getting it opened.

"I've been a stay-at-home mom my whole life. Making money isn't the reasoning," Johnson said. "Anything we make will go right back into this."

The store is a huge gain for the downtown and the whole area, says Renee Oldham, executive director of the Center City Development Innovation Center. She is amazed by Johnson's efforts. "She had no background in putting a non-profit together, yet she has done it on her own," Oldham said.

The Innovation Center helped Johnson find the building and maneuver through the process of gaining non-profit status.

"It's remarkable what one person has done and she's fulfilling a need for our community," Oldham said. "She is a diligent, resourceful and amazing woman."

Johnson counts on landing grants to help staff the store -- and also could use some volunteers -- but is willing to make the store go no matter the cost.

It's a labor of love for young people with disabilities who want and need real jobs.

"That's where my heart is," she said. "It just feels right."

Reporter Mike Bennett: (765) 973-4462 or mxbennett@pal-item.com



Abilities Richmond
220 S. 5th Street
Richmond, IN 47374
765-966-0066


tami@abilitiesrichmond.org


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