Gompers serves 500 students and adults with physical and developmental disabilities in metro Phoenix. As it approaches its 75th anniversary, it continues its mission to transform local lives for the better with unique programming and experiences.
In 1947, the Maricopa County Crippled Children’s Society began offering services to 79 children in their homes. Six years later, Gompers Rehabilitate Services was able to open as AFL-CIO’s 10,000 members donated labor, product and money to see it through. The nonprofit was thus named after AFL founder Samuel Gompers. “It’s an organization made up of people who are passionate about assisting individuals with disabilities to achieve their highest level of independence and productivity in our community,” says Travis Harris, director of special education.
Harris says that the long-term goal Gompers has for its students is to become as independent as possible, which the nonprofit helps to accomplish via three of its services: the Gompers Private School, the Day Training for Adults program and the employment services program. “With our school and Gompers intertwined, the transition to adulthood can go smoothly,” Harris says. The programs not only allow for employment readiness, but students are encouraged to fulfill their dreams and maximize their abilities to reach their pinnacle potential.
Its fourth program is Gompers In-Home Services, which offers habilitation, respite and attendant care services for individuals with disabilities. “In each of our programs, assistive technology services provide individuals with a diverse range of disabilities access to various assistive or adaptive products, devices or equipment to support or increase communication and independence.”
Even with all of the programs Gompers offers to its students, last year it embarked on its most comprehensive strategic planning process yet and is looking to branch into new opportunities. “We are currently in the process of finalizing licensing to begin providing oversight of Developmental Homes,” says Harris. “We are beginning to branch into mental health services and working with funding sources beyond the Division of Developmental Disabilities.” And during the pandemic, Harris says that it was realized just how much can be accomplished virtually, and Gompers is now looking to expand those services as well. “We are more excited for the future of Gompers than we have ever been.”