Established in 1971, Monadnock Worksource has a long and successful history of providing support, training, employment, and residential and therapeutic services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout the Monadnock region of New Hampshire.
At that time, the Monadnock Association for Retarded Citizens (MARC) members, many of them parents of youth with disabilities, recognized the need for support services, training, and employment to extend beyond the age of sixteen, when students with disabilities typically left the public school system. In September, 1971, the state legislature passed a bill to extend funding to support students with disabilities from age 16 to 21. Within a month, the MARC had recruited five Directors as a governing Board for the Monadnock Workshop Vocational Program. This project was granted the funding to provide training for students in three areas: automotive detailing, woodworking, and light manufacturing. In June of 1972, Monadnock Workshop was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization.
The agency began work with twelve students and three staff, expanding within a few years to serve twenty one students. By 1974, the vocational training and employment opportunities had expanded to include janitorial services, collating, and packaging. In 1976, the agency purchased an ice business and an industrial building at 44-46 Concord Street in Peterborough and moved from its location in the old fire house on Main Street. A variety of subcontract work was taken on, providing expanded employment and vocational training opportunities.
In 1978, the agency expanded its services to include various types of residential opportunities to meet the needs of young people moving on from their family homes and adults beginning to leave the state institution in Laconia, returning to community life. By the late 1970s, a grant from the state helped the agency establish an apartment program at 25 Pine Street, and a HUD mortgage was secured to establish a group residence in a beautiful home at 14 Pine Street.
Continuing to increase vocational options, in 1980 the agency began a food service program for the local area, The Flying Food Factory. With assistance from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), this program was expanded and a restaurant called The Eating Place was established in Antrim. At the same time, a retail craft shop, Creative Notions, was opened at 46 Concord Street for those people interested in producing hand crafts. During this period, services were also expanded to include nursing, tutoring, counseling, and other support services.
In 1982, a class action lawsuit was won on behalf of the residents of the state institution in Laconia, and the state was mandated to return people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to their home communities. Funding to community agencies was enhanced in order to provide community-based residential, vocational, and employment support services to these people. In response to these needs, our agency developed habilitative services and, again with HUD financing, established two community residences in Antrim, providing us with the capacity to serve ten people returning to the community from Laconia. A supported apartment program was developed for three people to share an apartment in a local housing cooperative.
At the same time, significant developments were occurring in the vocational and therapeutic services. The restaurant was relocated to Peterborough to improve its financial viability. Ancillary services were expanded to include occupational, physical, speech and behavioral therapies. VR awarded a grant to pilot a Computer-based Training and Assessment service. A job placement service, Work Stations in Industry, was established to provide training and employment within local businesses.
As the services of Monadnock Workshop evolved, again with the financial help from VR the agency made the commitment to close the sheltered workshop over a three year period and to support only community-based, integrated employment, training, and volunteer environments. Mobile crews were established for landscaping, janitorial and carpet care services. Individual jobs and enclaves were developed in retail establishments and local businesses. The restaurant was closed and those clients interested in continuing in food services were placed in existing restaurants and cafeterias. In 1988, our name was changed to Monadnock Worksource, to more accurately reflect our emphasis on job placement and providing qualified workers to community businesses. By 1990, we were providing vocational employment or training to thirty people with twenty different job sites within local communities, and residential supports to thirty one people. Throughout these transitions, our agency encouraged and helped develop connections, relationships, and friendships within our local communities for the mutual enrichment of community life.
While we worked to transition our employment and habilitative services, we were making parallel strides in shifting our residential services from congregate to individual living environments. Many of the people who came to us from the institution in Laconia moved from group homes into adult foster care arrangements, greatly increasing their opportunities to become active participants within their neighborhoods and communities. By the mid 1990s, we had closed our group homes and apartment building, and in the late 1990s we sold our property at 44-46 Concord Street in Peterborough, as we no longer needed the large industrial building which had previously housed our sheltered workshop. We serve an average of 36 people, with employment in two dozen businesses, volunteer positions with over a dozen organizations, and numerous residential settings throughout the Monadnock region.
At home in Peterborough
Our offices are currently located in the Brookstone Business Center at 9 Vose Farm Road, Suite 150, in Peterborough. We are very fortunate to have attractive, affordable, professional office space in a building which, over twenty years ago, housed one of our enclaves when a number of our clients worked for Brookstone.
The citizens of Peterborough and the surrounding communities have always been very supportive of their local citizens with developmental and intellectual disabilities and we are all privileged to live and work in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire.
Our home on Concord St, 1975–1999