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November 26, 2017 | Greenwich Time

GREENWICH — After six months of work, Abilis has reopened its renovated and remodeled Abilis Gardens and Gifts. The Glenville facility is central to Abilis’ mission to help its clients, individuals with developmental disabilities, to lead full lives. The gift shop and the greenhouse provide employment opportunities and training.

“It’s all about getting people into the community,” said Dennis Perry, Abilis’ CEO and president. “We want people to have as big and as meaningful a life as they can and what this does is, for people who want a job and want to work in retail, this is their opportunity. I will cycle 12 people through here who will develop a retail expertise that they otherwise wouldn’t have. ”The greenhouse was created in 1992, and in 2012, a garage was transformed by a group of Abilis families who wanted to give their kids and others served by the non-profit agency the chance to develop job experience.  “Today, we are combining them into one retail operation,” Perry said.

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A plaque inside the gift shop pays tribute to the Hilibrand and Levy families, who Perry said have been longtime supporters and believers in the importance of training Abilis’ clients so they can secure jobs in the community. Perry also noted the contributions of the Eustis family, the Franck family, the Woodruff family and the Ritch family for their decades of work in making Abilis what it is. Other opportunities inside Abilis include the café, property maintenance, a shredding business and a cleaning crew. Perry said they all provide valuable experience for clients and a chance to prepare for jobs outside the agency. “Not everybody is appropriate to go straight into the workforce,” Perry said. “Sometimes, they need to make the mistakes with us first. This gives them the opportunity to go do that.”

November 16, 2017 | Greenwich Daily Voice

The greenhouse and gift shop have recently undergone a total update and are ready for the holiday shopping season. “We have just updated and remodeled our greenhouse and gift shop to better serve the community and our clients,” said Dennis Perry, CEO and president of Abilis. “The greenhouse and gift shop are used to provide job skills and experience to individuals with special needs. Many of the items in Abilis Gardens & Gifts are made by the employees of the shop and are beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade items that include bath products, candles, jewelry and more. Also available are fresh cut flowers, seasonal plants and micro greens to purchase.”

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October 19, 2017 | Newcanaanite.com

New Canaan resident Dennis Perry, CEO and president of Abilis, recently presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of a new Abilis Life Skills Program in Wilton at the Trackside Teen Center. The 4th such program in Fairfield County—others are in Greenwich, Stamford and Westport—the new Wilton program will serve northern Fairfield County communities of New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Easton, Weston and Ridgefield.

dennisperry-Wilton

October 10, 2017 | Greenwich Time

GREENWICH — Courtney Baskin said Greenwich-based Abilis “saved my life.”

“I’ve been through a hard life and I didn’t know where I was going to go,” Baskin said. “I had nothing and no employment and it was easy to get into trouble. But once I got here I started meeting new people and making new friends. I never thought I would have a lot of people who cared about me and I so appreciate it.”

 
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                                                          Photos By Hearst Connecticut Media

Under the help of Abilis’ staff, Baskin was able to enter the world of employment. She started out with an interest in retail, but had no experience. Working through Abilis, she was able to get a job at Stop and Shop in Port Chester. “This young lady is a star,” said Dennis Perry, Abilis’ CEO and president. “She came to us without the equipment to work in the competitive world and we created an opportunity through our café.” Baskin worked alongside staff to open and run the agency’s café. Eventually she could do it on her own. “She became the manager and sadly she did such a good job that we lost her to Stop and Shop,” Perry said. “But that’s the objective. Done properly, this is a stop along the way and we could not be prouder of Courtney.”

Baskin will give back to the agency this week when she serves as a special ambassador at the 12th annual Walk/Run for Abilis Oct. 15 at Greenwich Point.

Abilis supports more than 700 people with special needs and developmental disabilities through its day program, residences and partnerships with local businesses, allowing clients to live as independently as possible. The annual event at Greenwich Point allows staff, clients, families and supporters to walk together to raise awareness and needed funds.

“It’s the thing we enjoy most,” Perry said. “It’s the one thing during the course of the year where we get to present to the town everything about Abilis. We have had a growing number of people taking part every year.”

Given the state’s ongoing budget problems, the fund-raising aspect of events like the walk becomes even more important than it usually is, Perry said. Funding cuts have forced the agency to institute mandatory furlough days, typically the last Wednesday of the month.

“When we first did these walks, we called them ‘friendraisers’ to raise awareness,” Perry said. “Fundamentally that’s what they still are, but because of the budget situation in the state of Connecticut, money is more limited and a fundraising component becomes more of a part of this.”

Abilis has expanded its day program to Stamford, Westport and Wilton to bring in new revenue.

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