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F&CS, Portage Industries, Inc. partner on new DD program

Unified resources will serve as centralized service provider for clients

By Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published: October 13, 2016 4:00 AM

Family & Community Services Inc. and Portage Industries, Inc. are collaborating on a new developmental disabilities program intended to make more services available to clients.

The new program, named Unified Resources, was explained Wednesday to the families and guardians of consumer-employees at the Portage Industries sheltered workshop on S.R. 88 in Ravenna.

Unified Resources is a combination of F&CS' Emerald Transportation and POWERCorps programs along with the employment offered by Portage Industries.

Officials said this partnership is an answer to the need in the developmental disabilities community for a centralized, easy-to-navigate service provider.

"What we really want to emphasize to the public and our families is that we will continue to have the same level of care and resources that we've had for over 40 years. One of the largest benefits to our F&CS partnership is the fact that we will be able to offer even more services to our clients," said Phil Miller, CEO of Portage Industries, Inc.

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The nonprofit's board has approved adoption of the new name.

Mark Frisone, executive director of Family & Community Services Inc. said, "This partnership and collaboration with Portage Industries, Inc. is going to immensely benefit our families in Portage County. Not only are we bringing employment, transportation and recreation services together, but now our clients will have access to all of the programs in the F&CS umbrella." Many of the current free programs that could be beneficial for UR clients include: the payee program, counseling services, utility and rent assistance, free furniture and household items, free clothing and hot meals.

Portage Industries is the employer of some 130 people with developmental disabilities who work at the sheltered workshop. The building, administrative and clinical staffs are operated and employed by the Portage Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Portage Industries secures work for its enrollees and uses its earnings to pay enrollees. The nonprofit enters into an annual contract with the Board of DD for employment of those people attending the workshop.

Omar Nagi, superintendent of the Board of DD, said he doesn't expect any change in the relationship between Portage Industries and the new entity.

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"Our relationship will be unchanged as of right now," Nagi said Wednesday.

"And really what it means for the Board (of DD) is we'll have another fantastic provider in our community that other people can choose to receive their services from," Nagi said.

He said F&CS "has a whole host of services" under its umbrella it can provide.

"It's a wonderful collaboration. Kind of what they have is a one-stop shop opportunity for a menu of services and I think there are some distinct advantages with that," Nagi said.

Family and Community Services is one of the largest social service agencies in Northeast Ohio and has spent the past 75 years helping individuals of all ages. The agency covers 21 counties and has more than 71 programs, including the Center of Hope, Kent Social Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the County Clothing Center. Family and Community Services assists more than 100,000 people on an annual basis and provides life's basic needs, counseling and mentoring services.

Emerald Transportation, an F&CS program, provides both medical and nonmedical transportation services throughout Portage County and has wheelchair accessible vehicles. POWERCorps is an AmeriCorps program of F&CS and provides recreational activities to teens and adults eligible for services from the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Portage Industries is a nonprofit corporation that, since 1970, has provided employment and human services for people with developmental disabilities. The company operates primarily in Portage County and serves more than 200 people with a staff and administration of approximately 15.

Unified Resources will make its official public debut at the Provider Expo on Oct. 19 at the Kent Elks Club from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, stop by their table or visit fcsohio.org/unifiedresources.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

Twitter: @MikeSever_RC

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