Greater Easley and Powdersville News

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Date ArticleType
11/19/2020 Press Release
Pickens County Board of Disabilities & Special Needs Honored as Non-Profit of the Year

The Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce has honored the Pickens County Board of Disabilities & Special Needs as its Non-Profit of the Year. Sponsored by Sam’s Club of Easley, this award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated a strong effort in successfully using its organizational mission and resources to improve the quality of life in Pickens County, along with working in close partnership with the business community to achieve the desired results.

Pickens was one of the first counties in South Carolina to fight against forces institutionalization of people with disabilities. In 1972, Pickens County families formed what would become Pickens County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs because of a shared belief that EVERY PERSON deserves to enjoy a community, a home and independence. The agency began with two staff members serving five clients. Today, the agency provides service to over 600 people in Pickens County with intellectual disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and conditions related to these four disabilities. The agency provides 24-hour staffing, 15 community training homes with 60 individuals and a supervised apartment-based living program with 22 individuals. Their services include support and assistance for infants, children and adults across Pickens County. In addition, their Day Program Services provide a wide range of opportunities for jobs, transportation, social and recreational activities, micro-business, learning experiences, and much more.

The agency takes pride in assisting our Pickens County friends in the pursuit of equal opportunities to live, work, enjoy leisure activities, and to achieve the highest level of independence possible. Their vision is to provide quality services to citizens with special needs in partnership with the local community. And in the Fall of 2019, a truly unique partnership between the Disabilities and Special Needs Boards of Pickens and Anderson Counties, Southern Wesleyan University and the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs celebrated the opening of The Jericho Project. 

Symbolic of the walls of Jericho in the Bible, the Jericho Project aims to take down walls—in this case, the physical, societal, and institutional barriers that can keep people with disabilities from interacting with, and being full participants in, their communities. Managed by Pickens County Board of Disabilities and Special Need and housed on the SWU campus, the project’s combined living & learning environment pairs residents who have special needs with SWU student mentors who live on site and provide guidance, support, and friendship. In exchange for serving as mentors, SWU students pay a reduced fee for their housing and gain valuable life experience. In addition, special needs residents are able to benefit from job opportunities on the SWU campus, as well as off campus because of a partnership with the Clemson Area Transit. Opening the house in 2019 represents the first of three phases, where more housing will be constructed in the future. And due to the project’s success, they hope to make it a national best practice model.

The Easley Chamber shares this important vision to enable individuals with disabilities and special needs to live, work, play and thrive at home in Pickens County. Please join the Easley Chamber of Commerce in honoring Pickens County Board of Disabilities & Special Needs as our Non-Profit of the Year.