By REBECCA HAZEN
The Orange Grove Center has found a new home at Trenton United Methodist Church (TUMC).
The Orange Grover Center, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Georgia, provides community based services such as employment opportunities and day programs for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
The Orange Grove Center had originally partnered with another church in Trenton that had dissolved.
“The Methodist Church reached out and lent a helping hand because we were going to be homeless,” Amy Morgan, case manager for Georgia Services, said.
According to Dennis Flaugher, pastor at TUMC, his executive assistant sent him a text message saying, ‘Did you know that Orange Grove Center needs a home as soon as possible?’ In the meantime, people were telling Orange Grove Center to check out TUMC.
“We talked and we had a good conversation,” Flaugher said about meeting with representatives of Orange Grove Center. “We were in unanimous agreement that we would be a good fit for them and they would be a good fit for us.”
Flaugher thinks that Orange Grove Center will benefit being at TUMC because of the church’s downtown location, which he hopes will bring them more publicity, so more people can be served.
“I think a lot of people just don’t know about [Orange Grove Center] and they don’t understand the need,” Morgan said.
In Trenton, the services that Orange Grove Center provides include taking the individuals out into the community and learning how to budget and count their money. They also help with reading and providing employment.
For example, they partner up with local recycling centers to provide employment.
“We teach them work skills, and how to stay on tasks and how to complete tasks, which is really important,” Morgan said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Orange Grove Center would also offer field trips to places such as the zoo or the mall.
They are also involved with Special Olympics as well.
“Our softball team won championship,” Morgan said. “They all love it.”
Orange Grove Center’s main location in Chattanooga offers music lessons, and there is also a pool. They partner with the YMCA to provide swimming lessons. There is also a running track and a basketball court.
Morgan says that there are about 30 adults that are involved with Orange Grove Center in Trenton. Most of them are older adults, ranging from ages 30 to 70.
In Chattanooga, there are residential homes through Orange Grove Center, but there aren’t any in Georgia yet.
Flaugher says that he envisions a joint ministry together.
“We want to be involved with them in ministry and in service. We are still exploring that. We would advertise and promote their events just as we would promote church events. I think the partnership is about being part of the family,” Flaugher said.
Orange Grove Center is housed in the church’s old sanctuary. The church has agreed to cover their expenses. In return, Orange Grove Center has offered janitorial services, which is another opportunity to provide skill training.
“Any volunteer opportunities that we can access for our individuals would be great,” Morgan said. “They love meeting people, they love to interact with them. Volunteering, it teaches them so many skills.”
Fundraisers and donations are also welcomed. For more information, visit www.orangegrovecenter.com.