PERRY, Ga. — The HALO Group in Perry helps people with developmental disabilities learn job skills and socialization, and then gives them opportunities to use what they've learned out in the community.
The group helps them adapt to different environments through their vocational lab and their farm days where they learn all about agriculture.
"Instead of putting people in a box, we go, "Who are you? What do you like? What drives you? What inspires you? What do you want to do? Now, let's go find a way for you to make money doing that'," executive director Angela Cuti said.
She says the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut down for a while, and they even had to miss out on one of their biggest fundraisers, the Vintage Market Days.
She says their group had been hard at work making and designing tote bags and different products out of bamboo to sell at the event, but they didn't let that work go to waste.
Since starting back up a few weeks ago, they've opened up an online store and partnered with other businesses like Yelverton Jewelers and Massey Gordon to sell some of their products.
Cuti says the money they raise through sales and other fundraising efforts helps them serve more people through scholarships and expanding their space.
The HALO Group has three big fundraisers happening right now, one of them is a 5K race through Lane Southern Orchards on July 25.
Cuti says they also recently purchased a van to help members who need transportation, and the group is raising money to help pay for the insurance.
Lastly, she says they are hosting a giving campaign asking for donations to help them as they work to finish the first phase of renovations at the New Perry Hotel.
They are turning part of the site into 11 apartment units that will be available to anyone in the community.
The group bought the historic hotel in 2018 with plans to turn the main three-story building into a multi-use facility that will train and employ adults with special needs.
There will be hotel rooms, a restaurant, office space, and rooms for training.
Cuti says there are many requirements to meet before they can start the large renovation project, but she says they have already overcome those hurdles at the local and state levels and are now waiting on approval at the federal level.
She says they are moving ahead with the apartments behind the main building and those should be finished by the beginning of 2021.
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