In 2001 Bonney Enterprises, Inc. and Open Door, Inc. merged to create Cornerstone Associates, Inc., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation. CAI provides job training and an array of vital day to day supports for those with disabilities. CAI’s mission is to create supports and provide the kind of skilled job training which enables program “Associates” to assume positions of relevance in the community.
CAI operates seven very diverse small businesses: Taylor Street Ovens, B&J Bookbinding, Cornerstone Janitorial, Cornerstone Wood Products, Cornerstone Landscape Maintenance, Cornerstone Packaging Plus and Cornerstone Gardens represent the businesses which employ the business’s 145 plus Associates. Each of these businesses is unique and each requires a specialized skill set from the employees who work there.
Many of those who have been supported and trained in the past, live independently and contribute to our community through work and civic participation. As large scale care institutions such as Oregon’s Fairview Training Center have been phased out over the years, smaller community based organizations such as CAI have become more important in providing services which enable people to transition from institutional support, to community support and finally to various degrees of independence within the community. While an individual’s independence from supports will always remain the ultimate goal of transitional services, many are still faced with the enduring educational and social factors which can prevent one from assuming a more independent life.
This is what makes CAI’s services so relevant today. Nationwide, provider organizations such as CAI are being challenged to create supports which will enable every client to have some form of employment and to live as independently as possible. Funding for larger programs, which has already been reduced dramatically over the past two decades, is currently being redirected towards employment and more singular supports. “This is a positive sign as it seems that as a culture, we have begun to appreciate the attributes and potential of those thought to have disabilities” wrote CAI staff.
With a rich history which emphasizes employment and job training, CAI is poised to meet these needs. “We recognize the difficulties in calling for the need of individual employment for those with disabilities during a period which has seen very little job growth. But this has enabled us to emphasize the necessity of the businesses which Cornerstone operates as a way to build job skills while employing our Associates,” CAI staff wrote in a letter to the Benton Community Foundation.
CAI also runs a Community Access Program, which is a daily program that provides a variety of supports to some 30+ participants who are seeking employment or are between jobs. The Community Access Program is designed in particular to support those who may require more pronounced supports due to physical or cognitive disabilities. Activities include weekly outings, arts and crafts classes, exercise classes and job training, which lead to the development of basic social, physical and work skills.
For many years CAI has partnered with Benton Community Foundation in order to expand and enrich its program. Most recently CAI has used funds received by BCF to provide scholarship for Associates who have seen their own funding and benefits reduced, or in some case eliminated altogether.
CAI has established an Endowed Agency Fund with BCF to provide a provide a stream of income for the long-term sustainability of the valuable services CAI provides to those individuals in our community who face substantial barriers to employment and independence due to disabilities. Contributions to the CAI Agency Fund is a convenient way for donors create meaningful community involvement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.