VersAbility Resources’ year of milestones in 2022 included launching two significant programs that expand opportunities for those with disabilities and achieving a major fundraising high.
The Hampton nonprofit started its Future of Work program in January 2022. Its 12-week cohorts offer life-long career opportunities to the greatest untapped talent pool in the nation — people with disabilities. Future of Work offers welding and culinary arts training while also addressing barriers to employment for people with disabilities by developing wraparound support services. Its first cohort of students graduated in the fall with new cohorts scheduled for January 2023.
“This program prepares people with disabilities for careers in high-demand industries through inclusion in certification programs,” said Kasia Grzelkowski, CEO of the Hampton nonprofit that serves more than 1,800 individuals with disabilities and their families.
Another training project, Project Independence, offers personalized life skills classes to help underserved adults and seniors with disabilities reach their highest level of independence and community engagement. Specific rooms on-site immerse people with disabilities into various areas of interest in addition to off-site community engagement/volunteer activities at local parks, museums, and more. On-site rooms include a coffee connection room that encourages individuals to practice independent decision-making in choosing their products, a technology room where they are able to participate in virtual reality programs to practice navigating real-life scenarios with the support of caring and compassionate staff, and an arts and crafts room that fosters creative engagement.
“Our Project Independence program allows people with disabilities to build skills, so they are prepared to make choices and navigate our community with confidence,” Grzelkowski said. “This program promotes physical and social wellbeing while creating an invaluable sense of empowerment and independence.”
VersAbility also made major strides in fundraising, including a total exceeding $107,000 during its Ability Am Golf Tournament held in May. That is the first time the nonprofit raised over $100,000 at a single fundraising event. VersAbility also raised more than $76,000 at its 15th Annual Gala held in person again in September after a cancellation in 2020 and a virtual event in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
VersAbility expanded its Ship Provisioning government contract to include sites at Kings Bay, Georgia, and San Diego, California. These expanded contracts created more than 100 additional jobs for people with disabilities. VersAbility also expanded the scope of jobs available through its Supported Employment program, which placed nearly 600 people with disabilities in diverse industries throughout the region, including the Eastern Shore.
Finally, VersAbility added to its leadership team with the hiring of Chief Development Officer Joe Harrow.
“We look forward to working together in the coming year to support people of all abilities in leading fulfilling lives of dignity, purpose and opportunity,” Grzelkowski said. “We appreciate the overwhelming support of our staff, business partners and community that’s helped us fulfill our mission.”