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New Vocational School for Adults with Disabilities Planned for Old Town

A local nonprofit is planning to renovate an office building in Old Town into a facility dedicated to helping individuals with special needs get access to job training.

The Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund (JPMF), an Alexandria based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of children with special needs and their families, is planning to build a Community Integration Center — a facility aimed at providing adults with disabilities with training and resources for their personal and employment goals — at 919 Prince Street. The facility will also include two accessory dwelling units.

The JPMF was set up by Alexandria parents Robert and Paola Pizzano in 1998 after their six-year-old son Joey, a child with special needs, drowned.

“The proposed use will allow the JPMF, an Alexandria-based non-profit organization, to further advance its mission of improving the lives of the disable population in its own community,” the JPMF said. “There is an un-met and growing need in the city for day-programming and vocational skills training for individuals with disabilities and the proposed use will allow the JPMF to meet both of those needs.”

The program is planned to have 15-25 participants at any given time, who can be transported to local businesses and receive training in things like administrative tasks and supply management. Program participants would be paid for their work by the local business.

The location is also planned to include a small storefront, selling items like handmade soap, candles, greeting cards, and other items created by those in the program and from other local organizations specializing in help for people with disabilities.

“In addition to developing vocational skills, the proposed facility will offer its participants education in areas such as nutrition, computer skills and other life skills,” the applicant said. “The facility will take advantage of the property’s location in the heart of the city by providing trips to local shops, museums, parks and restaurants throughout Old Town.”

Regular programming is scheduled for 8 a.m.- 6 p.m., but the space could also be used on evenings or weekends for special gatherings.

The application is planned to be reviewed by the Planning Commission at its meeting on Tuesday, June 2.

Photo via Google Maps

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