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Two new non-profits officially move into Special Olympics Michigan campus

The two non-profits do similar work to help provide opportunities at home and in the workforce to the disabled.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's a unique collaboration of local non-profit organizations that help people with disabilities all in one location.

On Thursday, Disability Advocates officially joined Thresholds as the two newest tenants at the Special Olympics campus in Kent County. The facility will soon host nine total non-profits.

"We've always done our best work with collaboration," says David Bulkowski, executive director of Disability Advocates. "This takes collaboration up three, four, a dozen notches."

Disability Advocates kicked off its capital campaign in September, and quickly reached its $2.5 million goal.

The new home accessibility center shows that money put to good use.

"It's for people with disabilities to come in and try out," says Bulkowski.

The facility gives disabled people a chance to see how accessible changes at home can help make life easier.

Cameron Young, co-chair of the capital campaign and disabled himself, says he could've used a facility like this.

"Just to make smarter choices in home remodels and things like that," says Young. "I can't wait for the impact this will have in people's lives."

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Next door, Thresholds does similar work to help provide opportunities at home and in the workforce to the disabled.

"To have many services under one roof, a family member may not know about another organization," says Jacquie Johnson, President and CEO of Thresholds. "But we would and we can refer them so it's an exciting prospect."

"We're looking not only to create some efficiency for our organizations, but also collaborate on some really big ideas, this building being the first," says Jennifer VanSkiver of Special Olympics Michigan.

SOMI bought the former high school campus to turn it into the world's largest training facility for athletes with intellectual disabilities. It's now also a hub for non-profits serving people with all abilities.

"It's really a community gem," says VanSkiver. "Yes, we own the property, but the community owns the outcome."

Other organizations inside the facility already or that will be coming soon include Be Nice, the Down Syndrome Association, and Brody's Be Café.

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