Organizations: Tommy Nobis Center

As it celebrates its 30th year, the Marietta based Tommy Nobis Center estimates it has helped some 15,000 disabled youths and adults in the Metro Atlanta area find work.

That’s no mean feat, says President and CEO Connie Kirk, who’s been with the organization since its inception. “Seventy percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed,” she says. “Compare that to the general population with a 5 percent unemployment rate. There’s a significant need for assisting people to assist themselves.”

The Nobis center employs a variety of means, from providing job skills training to placing clients – many referred by its close partner, the Georgia Department of Labor’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services – on site with other partners, performing functions ranging from clerical to janitorial.

The center operates a production center (warehousing, packaging, shipping) at its headquarters. Business services are also offered onsite for clients, who include NAS, Social Security Administration and HUD.

Though the center receives payment for these services, all funds are plowed back into operations. That’s a boon, says co-founder and former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis, because it means the center doesn’t have to spend all year fund raising.

The center kicked off its fourth decade by branching out, establishing a base in Rome (at the Department of Labor’s request) from which it will enhance its community based efforts. Such programs, Kirk says, include a partnership with Kroger that involves training clients in an actual store. Other partners include WellStar, DHL, Owens & Minor and First Data.

In the end, however, it’s about more than just getting someone a job; it’s about changing lives for the better. So many clients, Nobis says, “never thought they’d be able to make it on their own … driving an automobile, having their own apartment, buying their own clothes, just being self-supportive, making down payments on a home. To know that we have played a small part in that, you can imagine how gratifying that is.”

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