The Otter River Resource Center, Inc. (ORRC), formerly known as The Sheltered Workshop of Altavista, was founded in 1974 by a concerned group of parents of individuals with disabilities and several community leaders who were concerned about what the individuals were going to do after they completed their high school education. ORRC was established for the purposes to “provide, maintain, furnish and promote vocational training of physically and mentally handicapped citizens, guidance and counseling for physically and mentally handicapped citizens so that they may more readily adjust to the community environment and placement of physically and mentally handicapped citizens in meaningful and gainful employment in the community.”

Like many organizations, it became necessary to adjust some of the day-to-day activities but the original purpose of this organization, providing services for people with intellectual disabilities, has never changed. The mission is “to provide quality support, training and employment for people who are disabled in an environment that is nurturing, healthy and safe.”

ORRC over the years has provided a variety of opportunities for the individuals being served. Some of them were woodworking, lawn care, recycling, packaging products for local businesses, producing and packaging plastic hooks for the garment industry and recycling wooden core plugs for the paper industry. However, for a number of reasons these opportunities became unavailable. The ORRC Board of Directors in 2008 made the decision to change the main activity from vocational training to daily living skills training. This includes training in self-help, socialization and adaptive skills and the focus of enabling the individual to attain new skills or maintain current skills.

Simultaneously with this major change in the type of services being provided, the ORRC Board of Directors decided to continue the business of recycling wooden core plugs and continue several packaging jobs for local industries. The ORRC Board also made the decision to hire as many people as possible with disabilities as staff members in order to perform this work.

From its inception ORRC has received strong community support. This has included such things as financial assistance from local foundations, churches and civic organizations, volunteer support from the local churches, local businesses and local schools and special activities for the individuals who attend ORRC. ORRC would not be where it is today without the community support! Yes, even the facility was donated to ORRC by a family.

While ORRC has changed over the years, ORRC is still led by a volunteer Board of Directors that is responsible for the overall direction of the organization, creation of appropriate policies and oversight of the services, operations and fiscal management. The Board is assisted in these efforts by an Executive Director who is responsible for the operational and programmatic leadership of the organization.