This month, we proudly highlight the Crossroads Industries, Inc. Fund of the OCF. This fund was established in 2000 as a Designated Fund to support Crossroads Industries, Inc., a 501(c)3 serving our Otsego County neighbors. Designated Funds are established for the benefit of appointed nonprofits and educational or religious institutions. Individual donors or the nonprofits themselves may establish these funds, which provide support now and enhance the resources the organizations will need in the future. Crossroads Industries, Inc. operates Crossroads Business Services, Creative Pursuit, and Studio 45 in Gaylord.

Crossroads Industries, Inc. was established in 1972 by a group of concerned parents who wanted to create employment and social independence opportunities for their children with disabilities. Today, over 50 years later, Crossroads “offers employability training and skill building services to help people with disabilities develop and enhance job skills necessary to find and maintain a job in the community.” Crossroads Industries currently serves 40-45 clients who receive employment training to attain paid community employment as well as community inclusion opportunities.

 Crossroads Business Services provides printing, direct mail, packaging and labeling, and janitorial services, in which clients at Crossroads are employed and complete the work in a timely and efficient manner. Creative Pursuit is a collaborative effort between Crossroads Industries, Inc. and Gaylord Area Council for the Arts, inspiring inclusivity and creativity in the arts. Their gallery displays artists from both organizations. Studio45 is an inclusive community art studio where clients can express themselves through art.

Funding for these programs comes from income generated from Crossroads Business Services (CBS) and from Medicaid funding for each client. The loss of a large CBS customer in the mid-2000s and cuts to Medicaid funding over the years have made it difficult for this organization to provide important services. The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted Crossroads, decreasing the number of clients who came for services. Those numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

At its heart, Crossroads Industries, Inc. changes the lives of the individuals it serves and their families. Board Chair Theresa Taskey is one of those mothers who experienced the impact of Crossroads’ programs on her son. In 2007, Theresa’s son Nick Grenke was graduating from Gaylord High School, yet he was not ready for post-high school life. Nick did not possess the employment of life skills of his classmates. His prospects were few, and he was not set up for success. Theresa was anxious about her son’s future. At the time, Theresa could not give Nick $20 to go to the store to buy something because he “wouldn’t know what to do with it.” Like all mothers, Theresa wanted the best for her son, and she didn’t know how to help him.

Nick’s CMH caseworker told Theresa about Crossroads Industries, Inc., and she enrolled him in their programs. Nick’s evolution has been phenomenal over the last 17 years. The Crossroads staff met Nick where he was, assessing his strengths and never putting a cap on what he could achieve. He continues to exceed everyone’s expectations, including his own.

Nick has maintained his residence since the end of 2019, something Theresa could not have envisioned in 2007. He provides janitorial services for four buildings—CBS, Creative Pursuit, The Gaylord Chamber of Commerce, and State Savings Bank.

Theresa is grateful for the services and guidance Crossroads provided to Nick and herself. “I could have been the one holding him back without knowing it,” she says. Crossroads helped her support Nick as he moved toward independence. “I am as proud of him as he is of himself.”

The Crossroads Industries Fund at the OCF supports the important work that serves an often overlooked segment of our community. It helps clients like Nick reach their full potential, and it helps mothers like Theresa see their children succeed and reach goals that previously seemed unattainable.

 You can donate to the Crossroads Industries, Inc. Fund here.

Please watch this video to learn more about the history of Crossroads Industries, Inc. and its impact on our community.