The Cove Center Develops Employment Opportunities for Clients on Autism Spectrum

Since our founding over 25 years ago, the mission of The Cove Center has been to create opportunities for each person we serve to learn, to grow, and to engage in meaningful community work and social activities.

Supporting adults who are on the autism spectrum obtain meaningful employment and social relationships in the community can be, not surprisingly, a challenge.  It requires a commitment to the values of person-centered services, a systematic approach to overcoming barriers, and most importantly strong community partners.

Guided by these principles, we have supported our community partners as they have assisted many clients to become employed.  Some clients are working and on the payroll of community businesses such as Amica Insurance, NC3, and Lorimer Workshops and Studio.  For other clients, we have developed agency-run business enterprises that offer meaningful, paid community work opportunities.  These include the Groden Greenhouse, the Squeegie Clean Window Washing Business, the Groden School Lunch Program and the Network Trades Program.

Our goal in the development of community options is to link not only the individual client to the community, but also to link The Groden Network as a full and vibrant community, business partner!

It was through our Trades Program that The Cove Center became connected to one of our strongest community partners, Lorimer Workshops and Studio.

A quick history….  The Trades Program was located initially in the Cowan Plastics Building adjacent to The Cove Program Building on Manton Avenue in Providence, RI.  This building converted over time from a manufacturing center for the “Mosquito Magnet,” to what became in essence a business incubator housing several small businesses focused on art, design, and furniture construction.

Lorimer Workshops and Studio moved into the Cowan Plastics Building in 2015, when we were introduced to David Ellison. David is both the founder and owner of Lorimer.  David has had a lifelong fascination with antique homemade furniture and a passion for building and restoring a variety of products.

The Lorimer Workshop and Studio is a small operation led by David, in addition to employing a small but dedicated crew of innovative craftsmen and craftswomen.  David is the visionary in the area of create design and has a talent for making beautiful farm tables and other pieces of furniture.  His crew then executes his vision, leading to the sale of these beautiful farm tables and other furnishings on a national level.  These pieces have earned a national reputation for their quality and unique style.   Lorimer Studios has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, and ETSY’s Process Blog.

In addition to David’s creative vision and production of fine furniture, he demonstrated upon touring the Cove Center a curiosity about the unique skills and challenges of our clients.  It was always interesting to watch the interaction as David introduced himself (with his unique Scottish brogue) to so many of our clients. His quiet demeanor belied a deep curiosity.  As he learned more about our clients and their behavior, his most often asked question was not “why do they do that” but rather “what is something they do with that?” That was then followed by a chat about “what does Lorimer need done that might be a match?”

Soon David was offering work opportunities in the form of job trials. For example, there was the young man from our former Job Club who learned how to finish sand table tops.  There was the young woman from Cove who learned how to paint a table…a messy but fun adventure for her! There was Mike and then BJ who both learned to do industrial cleaning, using a vacuum they both realized was as big and loud as a car!

While the results of these job trials varied, there was always for each person a valuable opportunity to learn about the world of “real” work, and to do so in an environment as supportive as one could hope for. 

In addition to these terrific individual experiences, David has shown an interest in the potential collaboration of business and non-profit.

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