RUSSELL — Unrecognizable today as the former watering hole it once was, the former Russell House property has been reborn as an ultra-modern day-program facility offering a needed service — and hope — for local adults with disabilities.
In operation since September, Ottawa-based Innovative Community Support Services (ICSS) officially celebrated the transformation of the 108 Mill Street address into the private charity’s latest satellite location with an Oct. 2 open house. As part of its skills-development program, the place also features a “Spread the Joy” front store to retail the jams, jellies and pickled preserves assembled by program participants in the gleaming new kitchen.
As many as 40 individuals can be accommodated at the site, which operates on a fee-for-service basis. The participants typically pay out of provincial “Passport” grant funding they may receive to take part in such programs.
“It’s my first year at Russell, so it’s nice to have a change,” said participant and program advocate Bryson Hildebrandt, who previously attended ICSS’s day-program site in Orleans. The Embrun resident described the accessible facilities as “great” for individuals with physical challenges. “I love it.”
“We do a lot of life skills, a lot of day to day things, things that would be good for your future,” said another ICSS participant and advocate, Rachel Mair, who continues to attend the Orleans site where she also makes soap.