Gateways Galleria Opens in Niles

NILES, Ohio – Gateways Galleria has opened a new day habilitation center that’s directed to help adults with developmental disabilities, a service that officials say is much needed in Trumbull County.

“We are looking at this as a hub and trying to get our individuals out in the community,” said Elizabeth Merritt, manager at Gateways Galleria. “We’re trying to be innovative in the world of developmental disabilities.”

Employees, elected officials and board members hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to commemorate the new operation.

Gateways Galleria provides activities inside the renovated building at 1200 Youngstown-Warren Road such as puzzles, arts and crafts, sewing, games and gardening, she says. Outside activities entail transporting clients to the mall, outdoor gardening, and museum visits, she said.

“It helps our individuals with developmental needs go into the community,” Merritt said. Often, this population either stays at home or is placed in standardized workshops, whereas Gateways Galleria supports programs specifically designed to encourage these adults to become integrated into the community.

“It’s also a way for the community to help us and partner with us,” Merritt said. “We’re trying to partner with places such as Upton House, and we’ve already done a partnership with Physique and doing yoga with them, and bringing yoga into the facility.”

Operations officially start Feb. 1, Merritt said, and will begin with 31 clients. The program has the capacity to hold 100. “We’re hoping to further our community’s needs and bring in more individuals.”

Gateways Galleria is a subsidiary of Gateways Industries, headquartered in Austintown. The company operates a day workshop for adults with disabilities in Youngstown in which it tries to secure standard employment for its clients.

The Trumbull County operation is different in that it’s solely dedicated to providing programs where its clients interact directly with the community.

“This is our first one in Trumbull County,” she said, and the first of its kind in the state of Ohio.

The building, which once housed an Aaron’s rental store, was fullly renovated to accommodate those with disabilities, Merritt said. The new operation employs nine.

Ed Stark, superintendent for the Trumbull County Board for Developmental Disabilities, says programs such as these allow families more options in regards to caring for disabled adults.

“Right now in Trumbull County, we’re fairly limited as to the options folks have – places to go and things to do during the day,” he said. “This will provide a great opportunity. It’s a great addition to our community.”

Over the next four years, Stark says the board will transition about 200 people out of sheltered employment settings to smaller community-based programs. “There’s a fairly big need in the community,” he said.

At the same time, the operation occupies what would otherwise be a vacant building along U.S. Route 422, Niles Mayor Tom Scarnecchia said. “They took this empty building and turned it into a beautiful place. We welcome any kind of services, and Gateways runs a very, very good program,” he said.

Pictured: Steve Mientkiewiz, Niles Second Ward councilman; Mary Ellen Kovalchick, chairwoman of Gateways Industries; Niles Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia; Ed Stark, superintendent for Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities; and Elizabeth Merritt, day habitation manager for Gateways Galleria. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.