Augusta, GA -
It looks like any other repair shop from the outside... but once you walk through the doors of the Augusta Training Shop, on Jenkins Street, you get the sense that this place restores more than old furniture.
Through a succession of hugs from a most-welcoming crew of workers, and the sweet singing of "Happy Birthday" to Maurice and Miss Bobbie, it's pretty obvious that this place restores one's faith in humanity.
I was invited to come by and help celebrate the April birthdays in the bunch. Once a month, ATS volunteer Darrell Byrd and others stage a birthday luncheon for the workers here. Miss Bobbie and Maurice are two of the talented employees who take pride in their ability to restore furniture to its former glory while learning a useful, potential wage-earning skill.
The Augusta Training Shop employs mentally and physically challenged adults, consisting of people with various disabilities including cerebral palsy, MR, deafness and blindness. They range in age from 18 to 79.
This homegrown charitable organization has no ties to any national organization. 100% of its funding comes from the community: through revenue from repair work, contributions from individuals, churches and businesses, the United Way of the CSRA, and aluminum can recycling.
One of its most popular fundraisers, Derby Day, is coming up Saturday, May 3rd. The event centers around a live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby, from 4pm-8pm at Legends Club, 2701 Washington Rd. Advanced tickets are $75... $90 at the door. Get your tickets now by clicking this link.
Derby Day features Southern cuisine, Mint Juleps, live music, fashion and hat contests, and a silent auction including employee artwork.
You can support the Augusta Training Shop by dropping off empty aluminum cans for recycling; donating old t-shirts, towels & wash cloths, and hats or ball caps; and they'll happily take your old adult bicycles and sports equipment and put them to good use.