By Shana Adkisson
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — $10,000 grant
What started 30 years ago as a workshop with only six clients, has now grown into one of Norman’s most valued nonprofits.
Known simply as ABLE, Able Bodies Learning to Excel, the Oklahoma-based nonprofit has the mission to expand employment and residential alternatives, improve training, provide on-going support for, and increase public awareness of adults with developmental disabilities.
ABLE started its first group home in 1985. Now it offers six group homes to 31 residents who receive 24 hour care from a trained staff. During the day, most of those clients gather at the ABLE workshop at 300 N. Crawford Ave. and from there most will be transported to individual jobs in the community.
“We do a lot of community service projects,” Executive Director of ABLE Jane Ciorba said.
Ciorba adds that ABLE has contracts with area businesses, Meals on Wheels, the City of Norman and several other agencies that offers employment for clients of the nonprofit. Ciorba explains that giving clients the opportunity to be productive citizens in the community is one of the rewarding parts of her job.
“I love my job. The reward comes when you can see people do things on their own,” Ciorba said. “We just try to give them a meaningful life.”
In November, ABLE celebrated 30 years in the Norman community. That’s an accomplishment that Ciorba plans to celebrate all year long. One of the ways ABLE celebrated this milestone was by giving a slight facelift to the workshop by installing new ceiling tiles and insulation to the aging building. Over the years, the facility had seen it’s share of tornados and other perils of Oklahoma’s weather, leaving a new roof and air conditioning units as part of another revitalization project. The work, Ciorba explains, was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Sarkeys Foundation. A grant that Ciorba was very grateful for.
“We just had no money to do any of that work,” Ciorba said.
The work, completed in December, was provided by Stacy Caldwell of Crown Roofing and Construction.
“Kudos to Crown Roofing and Stacy Caldwell, he put a lot of his own personal stuff on this job to help us. They have been very generous,” Ciorba said. “Jack Craven owns Philip’s Heat & Air and has donated labor and procured us a donation of air conditioners from dealers.”
And it’s the generosity of the community that Ciorba praises for ABLE’s success and future growth.
“I would love to see us expand,” Ciorba said.
The vast majority of the funds ABLE receives is from Federal and state governmental sources. United Way funds are the second largest source of funds with donations and fundraiser comprising the rest.
Operations of ABLE are closely over seen by the Developmentally Disabled Services Department of DHS.
For more information about ABLE, call 329-3960.
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