Abilities Unlimited Set To Close Three Retail Locations

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Through Abilities Unlimited, people in our area who have a developmental or social disability are able to work a job, collect a pay check and learn the life skills they need.

Organizers at Abilities Unlimited teach classes and provide more than 60 clients with a job through companies in the River Valley who employ their service.

Abilities Unlimited is an organization that started back in 1962.

"This agency was formed with a small resale store in front and a sheltered work shop in the back on Garrison Avenue," Executive Director Bill Loyd said.

At one time it was the retail stores that kept Abilities Unlimited able to fund the important work of teaching clients life skills. Loyd said the organization today does not receive enough in state and federal funds to cover all expenses.

"The stores were a way that we could bring donations in, price them economically and then sell them back to the general public to run these programs," Loyd said. "The stores have just not been able to generate enough funds to pay for their existence."

Starting in April, three retail locations will close. A retail store in Clover Leaf Plaza in Van Buren, a store on Albert Pike in Fort Smith and another on N Street will close.

Loyd said the organization is now working on implementing a state program called Medicare Waiver, which is designed to keep a person with a mental disability out of an institution.

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