Business Community Helps Abillitree Grow



The mission of Abilitree is to empower people with disabilities to grow their independence, work productivity and full inclusion in our wonderful community here in Central Oregon. Over the last thirty plus years of operation this organization has continued to grow both in scope of services offered and numbers of people served. They are the only such organization in Oregon with such a wide breadth and depth of services to all people with disabilities, from birth to senior adulthood, regardless of the origin of the disability, whether intellectual in nature or physical.

Such continued growth over the last several decades brings with it an occasional need to expand into the community and at a time where public funding continues to lessen bringing with it more financial burdens to bear. Abilitree has always sought to expand their partnerships and collaborations trying to be an ever expanding resource to our business community and community at-large.

One of their spaces of operation is at 2525 NE Twins Knolls, a 6,000 square foot work and life skills center that serves nearly 70 adults with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and many others in helping people continue to grow their independence.

From this location, staff and volunteers support people impacted by disabilities to work for such companies as the Oxford Hotel, Deschutes Brewery, Sara Bella Upcycled, Window Alert, Wild West Card Company, Round Butte Seed, Kialoa Paddles and many others.

As work is performed at the work center in a training capacity, small groups of people with disabilities move out into the community in supervised groups to perform work onsite at local businesses with possible future employment working directly for that company with continued onsite and funded support. Additional life skills, recreation and field trips emanate from this location five days a week.

Recently, Dan Steelhammer from COLM Commercial provided critical help to Abilitree in finding an expanded location to administer our services to people with physical disabilities whose lives are often immediately changed by a sudden trauma, illness or both. Previously administered from a small house on Clay Pigeon, this Independent Living Services program is now located adjacent to the work center on Twin Knolls in a beautiful and remodeled 4,000 square foot space previously occupied by the American Red Cross.

Sarah Burke from Bend Premier Real Estate and a long standing Abilitree board member facilitated the sale of the Clay Pigeon property by donating her valuable services making this move possible.

Peter Baer, president of Pinnacle Architecture approached Abilitree early on and offered their incredible in-kind services to design and create the improved space that is welcoming, functional and uplifting for all of our clients who are facing incredible challenges and need the programs and support Abilitree offers.

Stated Baer, “We try to give back to the community when we can and select one project a year as our in-kind donation. The project at Abilitree was a perfect match for our goal as a company to enhance our community while changing people’s lives. The people at Abilitree are great and so appreciative. It is hard to count all the multiple ways the community will benefit from this project.”

When Deschutes Brewery received a request of community support from Abilitree, Gary Fish and his team stepped up and invested in the mission of Abilitree with a donation of $7,500 to help fund the materials and construction costs. Barbara and Gregg Munster were also major donors to this project.

Carol Gregg from Smith CFI worked with others at William Smith Properties and facilitated the donation of the majority of the furniture that is now housed at this location, vastly improving both the functionality and the professional atmosphere of this space. Many others also contributed their valuable time and services including Steve Galash and Lonnie Brant from R&H Construction, Bend Heating and Bend Cabinet.

Mindy Lyman from Pinnacle Architecture probably summed it up best by stating, “I was delighted at the prospect of working on this great project because it is motivated by the spirit of helping out the community and learning more about the important services Abilitree offers all people with disabilities here in Central Oregon.”

On February 19 Abilitree held a Bend Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting and open house at this new location on NE Twin Knolls. Stated Tim Johnson, executive eirector at Abilitree, “This project would not have been possible without our great business and community partners whose critical support will now live on as a legacy for years to come.”

For more information about Abilitree’s services and programs, please contact them at 541 388-8103 or visit their website at


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