George Chambers Resource Center

With grant funding, the George Chambers Resource Center in Calhoun is set to become a training center for the individuals it supports.

The private nonprofit that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities aims to build bridges between them and their communities, according to its website, georgechambersresourcecenter.org.

Wendi Nunnery, Social Media and Public Relations specialist for the center, said it is helping the individuals learn the skills they need to lead independent, fulfilled lives, which unites the community.

“The community understanding, their understanding grows a little more,” she said. “I think there’s a kind of cohesion there in the community that sometimes doesn’t exist because of fear or misunderstanding or just a lack of knowledge.”

With 25 staff members, the center supports 54 individuals with employment, community access, living support, respite, training and transportation services, according to its website.

With construction under way, the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant it received is being used to remodel and add space to the George Chambers Resource Center at 1000 Ga. Highway 53 Spur SW. It cited an outdated design, space limitations that restrict programs and the number of individuals it serves, and safety issues in the grant application.

County Administrator John King said to help the individuals learn life skills, such as cooking and making purchases, Gordon County will provide $10,000, which it budgeted for the project.

“This new addition will have some venues that are built into it to help (the individuals) learn (to) do things that everyone else takes for granted, but that really are an important part of getting by day to day or living,” he said. “They’re going to have these areas so they can let them get used to having those interactions.”

With portions of the facility demolished to make way for the additions, the center is gearing up for the individuals to operate a number of new venues. It will include a restaurant, grocery store, postal service, banking center and theater that will transform from a movie theater to a performance theater, Nunnery said. The additions also will house a driving simulator, which is currently in a back room at the George Chambers Resource Center.

“The whole point of this facility really is to offer training and life skills to the individuals so that they can learn how to work, they can chose how they want to work, they can know what it’s like to have their own bank account and those kinds of things, so that they can go out into ‘the real world’ and lead independent lives on their own,” Nunnery added. “And also kind of learn what they’re interested in by working in the theater, working at the bank or working at the restaurant, so that they can learn what their skills are and eventually be hired outside of our facility.”

The center, which serves individuals 18 and older, was founded 44 years ago, according to its website.  “It is our hope that they will ultimately be embraced by their communities, gain independence and carve out a place for themselves where they are accepted as valuable and contributing members of society,” officials say on the site. CDBG funding supports projects in Georgia’s small and rural communities that create jobs and assist low- and moderate-income citizens.