09:27 AM

Community Impact: Just People, Inc.

Twenty-five years ago, Becky Dowling founded Just People, Inc. to provide social events for developmentally disabled adults who otherwise didn’t qualify for support programs.

Today, the Norcross-based nonprofit organization works with more than 300 individuals who need support, but aren't eligible for programs for people with severe disabilities.

“For many of them, you can’t see the disability, but it’s there,” said Kelli Ivey, vice president of Just People.

Just People provides a variety of support services to adults with developmental disabilities, head injuries and mental illness. According to the organization, 90% of the individuals using Just People’s services are unable to live independently in the community. To address the need for safe and affordable housing for its participants, Just People operates two apartment communities.

“By living in an apartment community, they’re able to live comfortably, but meet with friends and live independently,” Ivey said.

For Just People, transportation is vital to get participants to their jobs, selected outings and to its day program. A fleet of vehicles helps transport participants around the community with about 180 trips made by the organization each day. However, with an aging bus fleet and a growing need for handicapped accessibility vehicles, Just People needs newer vehicles.

The Jackson EMC Foundation recently awarded Just People a $10,000 grant to help purchase a new vehicle to transport adults with developmental disabilities around the community.

With a new vehicle, Ivey said Just People can continue to help its participants with jobs get to and from work. “Many of them really enjoy working because they can earn their own money, meet friends and are very loyal to their employer,” she said.

Like its other vehicles, Just People’s new vehicle will be painted with a tie dye pattern. “That’s on purpose,” Ivey said. “It makes the community aware of who we are, like ‘Here we come.’”

For more information about Just People, inc., visit justpeople.org.