Southern Oregon Aspire was originally formed as SPARC Enterprises and was incorporated in 1975. The organization was directed than and still is by an all volunteer Board of Directors representing a cross section of the county. As an alternative to state institutionalization, SPARC Enterprises was committed to providing goal oriented services which facilitated the growth and development of each individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The training program was designed to stimulate each individual’s mental, social, emotional and physical development with the vocational orientation provided by the work training facilities.
In the early days SPARC Enterprises was comprised of three major production components. The manufacturing component provided opportunities for training with wood working equipment. Products such as survey stakes, tree shades, box cleats, wooden stickers, grape separators, and by-products of kindling and sawdust were shipped locally and to various locations on the west coast. The second component actively supported the energy conservation movement through its involvement in recycling newspaper, computer paper, ledger or office paper and IBM cards. Newspaper drop boxes were conveniently located throughout the county and regular high volume customers were provided with individual site pick-up services. The third component included all the sub contract work performed for local businesses. This initially involved mostly bench work which lent itself especially for training those individuals with multiple disabilities.
Although the times have changed, we still continue to be fully involved in recycling and have since added electronics recycling (e-cycling), confidential document shredding, and document archive solutions . We also continue to have contract services that include packaging, light assembly, and mail-out services.
In 1973 we formed the Stepping Stone residential program that allowed an alternative to the State’s expensive and restrictive institutions. Our residential program started with a single home and has now grown into eighteen residential options in two counties that provide services to people with a wide variety of skill levels and support needs. We continue to be committed to providing opportunities and options which make it possible for residents to live in environments which represent the least restrictive option possible, thereby affording the greatest degree of personal freedoms for each individual. As always we emphasize health, safety, and privacy, and reinforce attitudes of personal and community responsibility and participation.
As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary of providing supports to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities we are proud of what we have accomplished, but it doesn’t stop there. We look forward to the future and the differences we can make for these people. We will focus our efforts on Community Integrated Employment and helping those we support secure jobs in their local communities. Not only does it impact their lives, but the lives of those they work with and for. Together we can make this happen!