Reach Columbus expands with a new location

Representatives from Reach Columbus pose for a photo during the Always Ready for Chocolate fundraiser for The Arc of Bartholomew County at The Commons in February.

When a group of local mothers of adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities banded together to begin offering day activities for their children a little more than two years ago, they knew there was a need in the community.

They just didn’t realize how much need.

The moms who formed nonprofit Reach Columbus Inc. began by serving about 18 people, and in just a little more than two years, that number has grown to 111, said executive director and co-founder Jennifer Fields.

“We were overwhelmed by how much need there was for this,” Fields said.

From its start a couple of days a week in space provided by First Christian Church in downtown Columbus, Reach Columbus in February 2022 began offering day programming from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 3528 Two Mile House Road.

Now, Reach is expanding its reach to a second location at 2529 Sandcrest Blvd. A formal ribbon-cutting with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce will take place at that location at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Fields said the celebration is open to the public and will include refreshments.

Reach Columbus quickly outgrew its first location on the west side and jumped at the opportunity to offer programming at the new location on the east side near 25th Street and Taylor Road.

The programs offered through Reach offer participants an array of activities from developing life and social skills to learning about healthy nutrition and volunteering in the community, Fields said.

“And we just have fun,” she said. “We want them to live their best life, whatever that means to them.”

That also includes Reachability, an employment program that helps participants work with family, friends and a support team to find employment and reach their individual goals.

Fields explained the inspiration for Reach Columbus came from moms whose kids had similar experiences. They had developed friendships and social connections in school, but afterward, when their classmates went to college or into the workforce, those connections sometimes were lost.

“It can be very isolating, being an adult with a disability,” she said.

The moms began getting together and providing opportunities for their kids, Fields said, and decided, “why don’t we do this for everybody?”

Reach is now a recognized Medicare day program and participant assistance care program that also serves self-pay individuals.

As part of its mission and vision statement, Reach says, “We will develop systemic change in our community that will lead to opportunities for every adult with a disability that allows them to utilize their unique skills and abilities, whether it is in the workplace, volunteering, or in community service.”

Reach is helping more and more people do so, Fields said. She noted participants in the program currently range in age from 18 to 71.

Along with Fields, the group’s founding moms according to the Reach website include Carrie O’Sullivan, Laurie Booher, Stacey Stillinger, Melissa Barkes, Kristine Miller, Celia Watts, Christy Farrell, Heather Baker and Tina Giles.