Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara (OU) is an agency that provides habilitation and support services to people with developmental disabilities.
Their story is very interesting and inspiring:
In 1955, a group of parents seeking basic services for their children formed the Niagara County Chapter of the Association for Retarded Children. They began operating school programs in Niagara Falls, Lockport and North Tonawanda. In 1990, the name of the agency changed to Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara to reflect the organization’s philosophy of building opportunities for people with disabilities. Today, they are the largest not-for-profit human services agency in Niagara County, with over 800 individuals with disabilities and more than 500 devoted employees.
S&B’s Stollberg plant in Niagara Falls started a relationship with OU in 1995, when they first started preparing bags for packaging the fluxes for delivery to N. American steel mills.
In 2012, OU prepared over 94,757 bags of seven different types at their Lockport workshop. The 80-person workshop is coordinated by a supervisor who works alongside the workers, ensuring they have both the training and support they need. A total of nine workers from the Niagara region travel to the Lockport Workshop to prepare the bags. Their tasks include applying hand stamps and reinforcing tape, punching holes, and attaching grommets and ropes. A quality supervisor ensures the products are of top quality and each individual feels appreciated. S&B’s Stollberg plant provides the bags, rope, grommets, boxes and pallets for the workers, while OU picks up the raw materials and drops off the finished product.
S&B contracts readily with OU since they provide a quality service. S&B is one of about 30 companies benefitting from their services. OU staff works very hard to ensure the workers are well trained and supported, as well as provided with continuous development. Everyone is learning new skills that help them in being productive members of the community – a community which turns limits into opportunities.
OU, for over 55 years, continues to provide successfully a creative environment and services for people with disabilities and their families. Those services include recreation, on-site vocational training, job placement and employment support, school-to-work transition, day programming, horticulture therapy, technology skills, fine arts, clinical services, residential choices, at-home therapy, self-advocacy, in-home respite, sibling and parent groups and parenting skill services for parents that have a developmental disability. Many people with disabilities work outside the workshops doing things like janitorial work, yard maintenance, and volunteering delivering meals or helping in area nursing homes.