EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 7, 2013

Opportunity Works plans new educational facility in Haverhill


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL – Opportunity Works, a private, not-for-profit organization serving adults with disabilities and their families, announced the expansion of its services with a new 37,000-square-foot educational facility being constructed in Haverhill.

More Haverhill residents are supported by Opportunity Works than any other city or town except Amesbury. The building will include 12 specialized classrooms to offer a variety of integrated, multi-disciplinary supports and services.

A capital campaign committee is being formed and the Opportunity Works Board of Directors has selected former Haverhill Mayor John Guerin to serve as the capital campaign director. The organization has a capital campaign goal of $2 million to be raised over the next three years to finance the project. The campaign will be launched Thursday beginning at 6:00 pm at DiBurro’s Function Facility in Haverhill where building plans will be presented.

Due to the increased demand for services, Opportunity Works has grown dramatically both in the numbers of people served and in the scope of the programs provided. Today, nearly 210 people from across the Merrimack Valley and beyond take part in support programs offered by the agency.

Headquartered in Newburyport, Opportunity Works has maintained a satellite facility at 209R Summer Street in Haverhill for 14 years. The new facility will be located on land behind and abutting Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and is slated to open in January 2014.

Jane Harris-Fale, lifelong Haverhill resident and Opportunity Works executive director, explained the pressing need for the agency to expand with a new facility.

“Our Haverhill site is at capacity, serving many people with more involved needs, which requires more space,” she said. “In 2004, our Haverhill site served 19 individuals with five staff. The site now serves 42 people with 15 staff. The expansion is projected to allow us to serve nearly 100 people with some 35 staff by 2017.”

The new site will create at least 20 new jobs over the next four years.

“Although we doubled our space at the Greater Newburyport facility in 2004, we are again at capacity and conference rooms as well as office space have been dedicated to more program space,” said Harris-Fale. “Even if we had the space to serve more people from Haverhill at the Greater Newburyport site, some people would have a long bus ride each morning which can be physically and emotionally draining.”

Diane Fasulo, whose son attends Opportunity Works and is a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, said the new facility is a vital need in the area.

“The need to support individuals with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and traumatic brain injury grows each year,” she said. “Fully integrated services and flexible programming is critical to the support of individuals with multiple and severe disabilities. This new initiative by Opportunity Works will meet the incredibly growing need in the greater Haverhill area and throughout the Merrimack Valley.”

Guerin said he is excited about the capital campaign to fund the project.

“In a very short amount of time, the new building project has generated a great deal of interest and that comes as no surprise to me,” said Guerin.

“The people of Greater Haverhill are remarkably generous when presented with opportunities to help those who genuinely need our assistance. This campaign will positively be a community campaign. Opening our hearts to fellow citizens – friends and neighbors – who are truly deserving of our helping hand is what Haverhill does best.”

To attend the capital campaign kick-off event, you may call Christine Crutcher at 978-462-6144 ext. 236. For more information about Opportunity Works, you may visit www.opportunityworks.org.