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July 2, 2014

Duncan Group Homes and Power Shop celebrate merger

DUNCAN — Duncan Group Homes and the Power Shop officially merged Tuesday, forming Ability First, to serve the needs of their clients.

The Power Shop opened in 1980 to provide vocational services, residential programs and activities for adults with developmental disabilities, and Duncan Group Homes was established in 1982 to teach independent living skills and support to and for the same group.

The merger has been in the works for more than a year, and will allow the agencies to share resources and property. The agency will establish an adult day care center in the fall.

Ability First Executive Director Robin Arter said the two agencies will now operate under a single board of directors.

“It was natural in our economy to merge,” Arter said. “We’ve always worked together.We have a stronger, more focused vision.”

Residential Director Melissa Canfield said the merger will also improve communication between the vocational and residential programs.

Ability First Vocational Director Tammy Loyd said the Power Shop had a building that would serve well as a day care center, and combining property and resources will help serve clients.

The day care center is expected to open next fall, and the next project will be opening a used-furniture store for clients to work in, Arter said.

She said she eventually wants to open a day care center for children and a garden as well.

“We’ll be growing vocationally,” Loyd said. “The merger gives us the opportunity to do more outreach.”

Arter said the agency will also serve as a resource center and referral agency for those with intellectual disabilities.

Duncan Group Homes, which has two group homes, a 12-unit apartment complex and three other properties with full-time staff to allow for independent living, would focus on life skills and the Power Shop would focus on providing jobs and activities for clients before the merger.

“People with disabilities will have more options,” Arter said. “We’re a responsible pool for employers to pull from.”

The agency is always looking for job and volunteer opportunities for clients, and is currently looking for additional staff members, she said.

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