These two North Salem nonprofits teamed up to offer job development opportunities for adults with disabilities
Two North Salem nonprofits have teamed up to offer job development opportunities for adults with disabilities. DIG Farm, a nonprofit, volunteer-based teaching farm, and Community Based Services, Inc. (CBS), a nonprofit that provides services for people with developmental disabilities and autism, formed a partnership that allows adults with all abilities from CBS to volunteer at the farm once a week and develop long term, marketable job skills.
Leaders for both organizations herald the partnership as mutually beneficial–helping adults with disabilities improve their mental wellness while developing job skills and, at the same time, providing a consistent stream of much-needed volunteer help at the farm.
CBS’s Job Skills Development Program provides employment training and work experience for people with disabilities. At DIG, adults from CBS’s prevocational training program learn skills such as growing, weeding and harvesting while working alongside other interns and volunteer groups.
“Science has proven that just being in nature, just even sitting in it, lowers anxiety, reduces depression, and negative rumination, while at the same time increasing socialization, well-being, relaxation, and cognitive function,” said Bonnie Robbins, director of the Access Nature Project at DIG Farm. Allison Turcan, DIG founder and head farmer, said, “I love seeing how these clients react to the farm experience. They come in, don’t want to engage as much, and then by the end they’re into it and they’re happy and you can genuinely see a transition into a calmer and happier space. It’s very fulfilling to see their growth and see how nature affects them in a positive way.”
After visiting DIG, Joe Conti, a job developer at CBS, said, “the beauty of DIG Farm is the freedom and celebration of choice. If you want to go plant and harvest vegetables, you can. If you don’t, you can go take a nature walk, look at the animals, and experience the beauty of the farm.” Through the freedom of this prevocational volunteer experience, adults with all abilities can explore tasks that might interest them, determine their manual dexterity, and ultimately identify the job that best suits their skill sets.
Avinash Samaroo, CBS's director of vocational services, added that “it is important with everything being so spaced out in North Salem to be partnered with the local businesses, especially in the nonprofit field. CBS is very appreciative and excited to be working with DIG Farm and helping each other out, for the sake of both our clients and the broader community.”