01/18/06 — Opportunity Center officially opens doors

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Opportunity Center officially opens doors

By Turner Walston
Published in News on January 18, 2006 1:46 PM

Wayne Opportunity Center has merged with the H.O.P.E. program, a rehabilitation center for mentally handicapped clients, on the old campus of Wayne Community College at 804 E. U.S. Highway 70 Bypass.

Funded by the United Way of Wayne County, Wayne Opportunity Center is a community-based rehabilitation facility for persons with mental and physical disabilities. The organization's main campus is located at 619 S. George St.

H.O.P.E., which stands for "Helping Our Potential Employees," had been a part of Eastpointe Community Services. Prior to that, the organization was operated by the Wayne County Mental Health Center, said John Chance, Wayne Opportunity Center executive director.

When Eastpointe dropped some services, H.O.P.E. was picked up by Wayne Opportunity Center. The merger became official on Jan. 1.

"It's a new program for us. It expands our operation to two facilities," Chance said. "It brings some new opportunities for Wayne Opportunity Center."

Chance said the merger would allow clients of both services to reach their full potential, with programs at two campuses.

"We have been a much more work-oriented program, where they had been more education-oriented," he said. "It'll help balance and hopefully maximize everybody's facility," Chance said of the merger.

The merger will nearly double Wayne Opportunity Center's clientele, bringing the count to about 115, Chance said.

June Fields, program director, and her five employees have remained with H.O.P.E. since the merger. Ms. Fields said the change will benefit clients.

"He's got some things that we always, needed and we've got some things that he needs, too," Mrs. Fields said of Chance and Wayne Opportunity Center.

"We've been more educational than we should have been," she said. "Our population can work. We're out there in the community telling the community that these people can work."

Ms. Fields said the populations of the two programs will blend well together.

"A lot of them have gone to school together, and they know each other. I really think it's going to be a good, positive thing."

Chance said clients and staff of both programs were excited about the new opportunities.

"The mood has been upbeat and very supportive. I think that everybody has done well. I know there's probably going to be some growing pains somewhere along the way, but so far we have not seen it."

Ms. Fields said she hopes the merger will help expand Wayne Opportunity Center's visibility in the community.

"These people do have potential," she said. "They have goals to work on. We're going to have to give clients an opportunity to get a paycheck."