OBI Is Golden!
By Rochelle Karina
Opportunity Builders, Inc. is not a new name in the area. In fact, theyre getting ready to kick off their 50th anniversary, starting with their November Bull and Oyster Roast. OBI began in 1962 in response to a need for occupational services for adults with developmental disabilities, a group of parents, educators and advocates came together to establish the Sheltered Workshop of Anne Arundel County (SWAAC).
It began in an old firehouse on Truck House Road in Severna Park. As the demand for services increased, SWAAC relocated to a warehouse facility on Langley Road in Glen Burnie. In 1990, with the development of a community employment placement program, SWAAC was renamed to Opportunity Builders, Inc. Due to space limitations, in 1991, the program moved to a 16,000 square-foot warehouse in Hanover where OBI expanded to 30,000 square feet before moving to the newly constructed 41,000-square-foot Millersville home in 2009.
Leslie Prewitt, Director of External Relations, refers to OBI as a social enterprise - an organization that applies capitalistic strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. What OBI offers is truly unique. The company personalizes services to each individuals specific needs. Services include the Warehouse Operations where OBI clients fulfill packaging, assembly and distribution contracts for national and local businesses. There is Supported Employment which enables individuals to obtain work in the local community, and Job Development where clients receive training in a structured and individualized environment. OBI also offers a Recreation and Leisure program to provide social activities like arts and crafts, music and dancing, field trips and games.
The next big event is the 14th Annual Bowl-a-Thon on September 25. The popular event includes prizes for pledges, pizza, soda, and of course, bowling. Following that will be the Bull and Oyster Roast on November 12. That event marks the official kick-off of OBIs 50th year.
Looking forward to 2012, there is the eagerly awaited Mardi Gras on February 4 that will transform the OBI warehouse into a scene straight from Bourbon Street. OBIs Mardi Gras always draws crowds and provides a fun-filled evening of entertainment, casino games, music, dancing and terrific auction items. A May picnic follows and the annual Links Challenge comes in June. The big 50th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled October 2012.
For more information about OBI, their special events, services, or to volunteer, head to their website at www.obiworks.org.