1970 – 1980
The first step was taken in 1976 when Mental Health Services rented the space next to their offices and established a workshop using their existing staff. At that time, the vision for the future was to incorporate the workshop as a private, not-for-profit corporation and contract with that corporation to provide work evaluation and work adjustment services to people with disabilities. It was further decided that an attempt would be made to interest the local office of Rehabilitation Services in a joint sponsorship of the facility. A commitment for support was received from Rehabilitation Services, which laid the groundwork for a landmark situation of cooperative effort between Rehabilitation Services and the GRN Community Service Board.
The next step involved soliciting political support. A local state senator was contacted and convinced of the importance of a vocational training program to the community. His efforts were directed toward acquiring an appropriation from the State Legislature to cover the cost of constructing a building to house the program. At the same time the county donated a parcel of land for the building site. State Senator Steve Reynolds worked to secure funding for construction of the building through the state legislature. Through the process of incorporation, a committee of that organization was given the responsibility of soliciting community leaders to serve as members of the initial Board of Directors. This Board of Directors, under the direction of a local attorney who was serving as a member, undertook the task of drafting the articles of incorporation and the by-laws and applying for incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office.
On January 8, 1979, three years from the birth of the idea, the workshop became GRN Creative Enterprises, Inc. At that point, there were 11 people enrolled in the program and the Community Service Board referred them all. That formative organization has now been in its “new” building since 1980 and serves many individuals in two primary locations. Day habilitation to meet the needs of persons for whom work is not a current priority has been added to the array of services, and the focus of services has moved to community integration. The current funding structure is made up of contracts with the Community Service Board, Vocational Rehabilitation, private funding, and fundraising as well as contracts with industry generating support for the costs associated with production used as a training tool.
1990 – 2000
In March of 1996, CEI added a Horticulture Program to provide therapeutic, occupational and vocational benefits. Our clients experience the miracle of growing wonderful creations from seeds. With their intervention, these seeds grow into beautiful plants and with our intervention our clients grow into productive people. The CEI horticulture program has a curriculum that can assist in teaching the essentials to hold down competitive employment in a related field. The CEI horticulture program offers supportive employment and training for people whose full potential can only be reached in a structured setting.
In September of 1996, a Day Habilitation Program was established to provide services to individuals who have barriers to employment so severe that employment is not an immediate goal. The program was implemented to include activity therapy, self help skills, survival techniques in emergency situations, current events, art, music, exercise, community awareness, and activities of daily living. The program began with 4 full time MRWP (Mental Retardation Waiver Program) Medicaid Waiver slots and 28 part time Grant-in-Aid recipients.
2000 and Beyond!
In 2001, CEI became a licensed animal shelter in order to provide pet therapy to people with disabilities and in nursing homes. Our clients go into the community as a class and provide the therapy to others. We have a variety of animals so that people interested in working with animals can gain experience.
In January, 2003, our new Day Habilitation building celebrated its grand opening and currently serves 21 full time clients through the Medicaid Waiver Program, Grant-in-Aid and private agencies on a daily basis. An expansion to this building provided by grant funding in 2007 will serve as a locale for large group interactions, and as a way to encourage members of the community to understand and support the services that CEI provides.
In 2009, CEI’s main campus expanded with the acquisition of an adjacent building from Gwinnett County. Since 2010, this building has been home to the Creative Enterprises Thrift Store. The main campus grew even more in December, 2010 with the purchase of the former Red Cross building, which now hosts classes as the Education Building.