A partnership between the GrandWorks Foundation and the Person Centered Services Lawnview Career and Enrichment Center is helping to move along the revitalization of the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St. in Urbana, while helping individuals with disabilities develop various employment skills.
In February, the GrandWorks Foundation, the nonprofit organization in charge of redeveloping the theater, held a meet and greet at the Gloria to show the community the progress being made to the building. Following the event, Lydia Hess, administrative manager of the GrandWorks Foundation, said she was contacted by Mike Ramsey, director of PCS Lawnview, who expressed interest in helping with the project.
Hess and Ramsey met, collaborated on projects the individuals from PCS Lawnview could help with at the theater, and the partnership was born.
Every Wednesday morning for the past several weeks, five or six individuals from PCS Lawnview spend about an hour at the theater helping to tidy up following Tuesday night volunteer work sessions.
“We’ve focused on providing the group with theater-keeping tasks like vacuuming, washing the windows and other basic cleaning,” Hess said. “Eventually, we hope to provide a variety of tasks to enable the group members to develop a variety of skills.”
Once the weather turns cooler, Ramsey said, he expects to bring his group over more than one day a week.
“We hope this will be the start of a long-term partnership,” he said. “As the Gloria takes shape, our goal is to not only provide work experiences through volunteering, but also to improve their social skills as we have a couple of individuals we would like to train as ushers.”
Hess said the foundation is looking for more ways to involve PCS Lawnview in the revitalization project.
“I think there are dozens of opportunities to provide to individuals with disabilities that would be meaningful to both Lawnview and GrandWorks, and, of course, to the individual,” she said. “Personally, I would love to have a group come for our events to help pass out programs and usher patrons to their seats.”
Hess went on to say that partnerships with local organizations like PCS Lawnview, which provide volunteer support, are vital to the GrandWorks Foundation as it moves forward with its plans to revitalize the historic theater.
“We would not be where we are today without our volunteers, and we are so thankful for the time they so generously give to the project,” she said. “The individuals from Lawnview are a valuable part of the GrandWorks team, and we truly appreciate their volunteerism.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.