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Chatham Trades is hosting an open house at its new location on Nov. 7 at 2535 Old U.S. Hwy. 421 North in Siler City. This week, we speak with the organization’s executive director, Shawn Poe, about Chatham Trades’ work and how a larger home base can help it grow.
Before we talk about your upcoming open house and new location, can you provide an outline of Chatham Trades’ work and focus? What’s Chatham Trades’ mission, and why is the work you’re doing providing vocational and developmental services so important?
Chatham Trades is a community rehabilitation program serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Chatham County. Our mission is to maximize the vocational opportunities of persons with disabilities within our community.
Chatham Trades’ purpose is to empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to attain their highest level social and vocational skill development while performing work for pay. We are committed to providing quality, individualized services to consumers, families, affiliate agencies, businesses and the community as a whole.
You’re at your new location now. What prompted the move, and how will the new location serve you better, and how will your partnership with The Salvation Army and The West Chatham Food Pantry work?
Chatham Trades originally started out in downtown Siler City on Raleigh Street where the bookstore is now. We rapidly outgrew that setting and purchased property on Alston Bridge and built a new facility. Again, we outgrew that space and in fact had to turn away work from other companies because we did not have the space.
We began looking for a larger space that would allow us to spread out, bring in more work and co-locate with other service agencies. Chatham Trades purchased the current facility in April 2018 and did a major renovation of the interior.
In partnering with other non-profit agencies, The Salvation Army and The West Chatham Food Pantry, we looked at each of our respective mission and vision statements and were able to mesh together to each fulfill our mission while expanding into other non-traditional areas. The partnership with the other non-profits allows our employees to perform work for their respective agencies, teach them transferrable skills, interact with the public and fulfill community integration, along with the sense of pride of helping others.
We also have partnered with Chatham Transit to allow parking of their vans overnight at our facility.
The move is a big step for Chatham Trades as you approach your 40th anniversary. What’s next for the organization?
We moved from a 10,000 sq. ft. facility to a 30,000 sq. ft. facility on July 1st. The property is located on nine acres, which will allow for expansion in the future, if needed.
We plan to apply for a new day activity program in 2020. This program will not have a work component, but will allow individuals with disabilities to come to a facility, develop skills for daily living, leisure activities and socialization. An important aspect of our programs is that it allows families to continue to work with the assurance that their family member is in a safe environment, participating in community outings and developing skills through structured activities.
Another long-term vision for Chatham Trades is to develop the site with a transitional housing community for adults with disabilities, homeless individuals and victims of domestic violence. We are looking at other models to determine partnerships and funding sources.
You’re hosting an open house and ribbon cutting Nov. 7. What can those who come expect to see, and what should we specifically pay attention to at the open house?
Chatham Trades’ open house is from 1-3 p.m. at 2535 Old U.S. Hwy. 421 North. This is an opportunity for the community to see the new facility, the types of assembly and packaging work that we do and hopefully share in our vision for the future. Guests should pay special attention the work atmosphere and professionalism of all the employees.