Know Your Org: Empowering Lives with Community Work Opportunities

"Know Your Org" is an informational series designed to spotlight some of the wonderful organizations in our community. For Disability Pride Month we are highlighting Community Work Opportunities (CWO)

Getting to Know the CWO

Community Work Opportunities (CWO) began 30 years ago in Redford with a mission to teach employable skills to adults with disabilities.

Initially focusing on janitorial work, they secured contracts from major companies like Ford and General Motors. One of CWO’s long-time clients has been employed at Kroger for 18 years, yet he still loves to check in each week to let them know his schedule and request that they support him.

Today, CWO operates at its current site in the Naccarato Professional Park at 5900 N Lilley Rd in Canton, which served 400 clients at its peak. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, they continue to provide essential services to around 80 clients.

CWO offers a variety of programs, including:

  • Vocational training: helping clients gain employment within the community.
  • Sensory integration: individualized sensory diets developed by occupational therapists.
  • Job coaching: providing on-site support to help clients succeed at their jobs.
  • Day programs: organized around interest areas such as music, art and gaming, promoting skill-building and personal development.
  • Community integration and skill building: clients actively participate in community activities, such as delivering meals to seniors, assisting at local thrift stores, and supporting the Humane Society. These activities build essential skills and foster meaningful connections within the community.


CWO's "Play Makes Sense" program offers a family-based approach to pediatric occupational therapy. Their services include:

  • Early intervention: sensory integration and vocational training experiences for children as young as 0.
  • Transitional planning: developing person-centered plans starting at age 14 and coordinating with school districts to support students until graduation.
  • Therapeutic play: therapy sessions designed to feel like play, fostering bonding and building a child's self-esteem.
  • Pediatric occupational therapy: addressing developmental delays, behavioral challenges and other issues with personalized treatment plans and home therapy strategies.

Giving Back to the Community

CWO is deeply committed to community service. They assemble hygiene kits for those in need, create cards for veterans and prepare kits for children in hospitals. Their clients volunteer with Meals on Wheels to deliver food to seniors, have worked with Lawrence Tech students, and partner with the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Center’s Buddies program.

Overcoming Challenges

CWO's biggest challenge is funding and the burden of numerous audits required by various government levels. Streamlining these processes would significantly ease their administrative load, allowing them to focus more on their mission.

Partnership with the Canton Public Library 

CPL is more than just books—it’s a place where everyone can learn, play, and create. Upon seeing a need, CPL collaborated with CWO to create the Friends Adventure Club, a sensory-friendly interactive program for adults with neurodiversity and/or intellectual or developmental disabilities, open to all patrons.


Each program is tailored to the audience’s unique interests and ability levels, and provides opportunities make art, play games, and enjoy music, trivia, bingo and guest speakers.

What Do CWO's Clients Think?

"I want to applaud the Canton Public Library for opening its doors to everybody—and that includes my special needs son, Cory, and 40 other adults from Community Works Opportunities. Imagine 40 people coming to the library to make ice cream earlier this month! I'm only sorry that Cory didn't bring some ice cream home. Well, maybe not. My wife and I live in Linden, some 70 miles away. I'm sure the ice cream would have melted by then. But, then again, it's not about ice cream. It's about inclusion and a community that treats all of its citizens as if they are special. Because they are!" –Scott Fosgard

“Hannah just loves coming to the library with her CWO friends.” –Robin Mitchell

"My special needs son (Drew) and I have been coming to the Canton Public Library for years now. Every Tuesday is our day. Drew loves a life of routine and knowing what he can count on next. It has become as important to Drew as his work at CWO, sporting events, movies or anything else. He is treated well here at the Canton Public Library, and the books provided to him have helped him to learn exponentially. Thank you, Canton Public Library, for becoming such a valued part of our lives!” –Donna and Drew Hiner

"CWO has opened its arms and hearts to our son Nathaniel. His life, and ours, has been enriched in so many ways. The program flexes and adapts to Nate's needs while treating him with dignity and respect. He loves to come to work every day, and we couldn't be happier with the staff." –Mark and Katherine Willard

How Can You Help?

Elaine LaMontagne, site director, says CWO relies primarily on first and foremost interventions that are community-based, by trained, caring, and dedicated employees, natural support of family members, and coordination with local independent businesses, schools, and local behavioral health agencies.  CWO welcomes and encourages individual, group, and business entities involvement. CWO strives to make all resources go far and deliver primary impact to persons supported.  "Prospective volunteers will need to complete a basic credentialing process focused on character, health, person-supported rights, and requirements for confidentiality." 

CWO is dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities and enhancing their quality of life. They invite interested parties to support their mission through donations, volunteering, or simply spreading the word about their work. For more information, please contact CWO site director Elaine LaMontagne.