John Brown University’s Enactus team has been working with the Siloam Springs Adult Development Center for almost a year and a half, producing marketing plans and research to help make the center more self-sufficient with regards to funding.
After months of planning and an unsuccessful first attempt, the Enactus team created a business plan for Shredify, a document destruction program that allows the the center to partner with local businesses and individuals to provide the center’s clients with a reliable income.
Although the center isn’t well known, it has been in Siloam for 38 years, providing work for Northwest Arkansas residents with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, severe retardation and autism, which make it difficult for them to keep jobs outside of the center.
Kolin Blakeley, director of the center, emphasized the importance of such a place.
“There is still a large number of people that do not understand how important the center is to the community as well as to the people that attend our program,” Blakeley said.
Enactus could be the team that helps the the center remain afloat.
“If it weren’t for the Enactus team, there is no way we would be able to get this program off the ground. Because the center has such a small staff, we are dependent on Enactus for doing all the legwork,” Blakeley said.
The Enactus team has helped make phone calls, do research and put together the business plan.
Development center board member, Donna Schwartz, agreed that the Enactus team was a huge help, “Enactus has the ability to identify the necessities for the start-up of the business. They researched the public need for the service, looked into materials needed and determined the basic costs for start-up.”
After all this work, the Enactus team and the center are making the first steps toward starting Shredify. To finance the equipment needed for the new venture, fundraising opportunities are being considered.
“Once the paper shredding business is started, the Enactus team will stay involved for probably another 6-9 months to help with the business and marketing side of Shredify. After that, Enactus will move on to help another local business,” said Blakeley.
Blakeley emphasized the importance of community awareness of the center and what it does. A report by arsources.org estimated a staggering “1,650 persons with severe disabilities in Northwest Arkansas.”
The center is a place where those with severe disabilities can feel like they belong, a place where they can earn their own money and feel independent. Enactus is planning on making that happen for years to come.
“The energy and enthusiasm they bring to the project is vital,” said Schwartz. Hopefully, the community will respond to the adult development center’s new project with just as much enthusiasm.