NORTH FORSYTH — A local nonprofit that employs adults with disabilities is approaching its four-year anniversary and has joined with UPS to offer more opportunities for its workers.
The PIER Foundation, based at a thrift store on Browns Bridge Road in northeastern Forsyth County, provides work experience for adults with disabilities.
The employees either work in the store or participate in the foundation’s latest initiative, where they can assist with packaging.
Cindy Matteson, who co-founded the organization in 2011 with husband Hutch, said people with disabilities sometimes struggle as they reach adulthood.
“Once they finish high school, there’s nowhere for them to go,” Matteson said. “They’re not trained for work or anything, so we started this for them.
“We got the idea for a thrift store. It’s kind of an easy way to get something started where they can learn and work jobs.”
The store, which opened in September 2011, features clothing, shoes, books and home decorations. The 16,000-square-foot space also is home to a furniture warehouse.
Nineteen employees sort donations, tag clothes and clean. They are trained for the paid positions, giving them work experience and some financial independence.
Other employees work in the foundation’s new packaging division, which started last year and is sponsored by UPS in nearby Suwanee.
UPS pays those staff members by the piece for each item they package, and PIER has been able to add five new positions due to the partnership.
Matteson said the foundation is looking for more businesses they can help with packaging.
“We’ve partnered with UPS to do this, but we’d be open to other companies, especially in our county,” she said. “… They may just have a real simple [job], like stuffing bags or putting stickers on something.”
Matteson said the foundation also is in need of more funding to expand its efforts.
Mike McCarron, who knew the Mattesons from church, has been working with the foundation since its inception. He started as the floor manager on a volunteer basis and now is paid to work in packaging.
“It gives me something to do during the day,” McCarron said. “It gives me a chance to get around and meet people.”
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 5185 Browns Bridge Road in northeast Forsyth. Contact: (678) 455-7437.