Op-Shop In Need of Funds To Continue 'Work Day Cafe' Project - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Op-Shop In Need of Funds To Continue 'Work Day Cafe' Project

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FAIRMONT -

The Op-Shop in Fairmont said it changes lives, just like Melissa Hite's, for the better.

"Since I have started working for the shop I have purchased a home, I just recently bought a new car, I'm going to college at 44 years old and they have also helped my family," said Hite, helped by Op-Shop.

It hires people with disabilities and trains them in a variety of skills.

"People with disabilities are the group that has a higher rate of unemployment then any other in our state and also in most of the other states," said Jan Smith, Op-Shop Director. "The training is invaluable in helping them find valuable work that they need."

Smith said the Op-Shop has helped more than 100 people with disabilities get jobs.

It has been focused on its latest project, the Work Day Cafe, for more than a year. In September of 2012, the project was in full swing. But it has recently come to a halt due to a lack of finances.

"We thought this would be a place that we could set up an integrated work setting. People from the community would be coming in and out to eat at our café or possibly to have small weddings and other types of occasions that our catering service would be able to provide for," Smith said.

A $537,000 grant from the state Division of Rehabilitation Services was to provide a delivery vehicle, restaurant equipment and personnel for the start up of the café.

But several unplanned expenses for the project came out of nowhere and all of the grant money was gone.

"We started all the remodeling and found that all the floor joist on both levels have to be replaced. We needed to do some things with the parking lot that we were unaware of," Smith added.

Smith said the Op-Shop needs $250 thousand to finish the project. Melissa Hite said it's important to give back to an organization that gives so much.

"Whenever you see that they are out there, you want to take up the responsibility and help them to succeed," Hite said. "I think that's something that makes the community come together."

The Work Day Cafe will train people with disabilities to work in the restaurant business and will double as a restaurant for hungry customers.

Smith said she wants the cafe to be different than the average restaurant. She wants it to serve comfort and seasonal foods, like soups and salads.

To donate, contact Jan Smith at the Op-Shop office. The number is (304) 366-4327.