RUMFORD – A former art center building on Congress Street has been given to the Hope Association as a place to train its developmentally disabled clients.
“We feel indebted to Lem Cissel who made that gift. It’s a wonderful commitment,” said Joe Sirois, executive director of the Hope Association.
The transfer of the property took place Thursday.
Cissel is a Maryland businessman who owns a 450-acre subdivision in Rumford and who developed the former Pennacook Art Center and now-closed Scrappers Domain. He said he donated the highly visible art center to honor Mitzi Sequoia, a member of the Hope Association’s Board of Directors and someone, Cissel said, who has done much for the people of Rumford.
Sirois said a new program now offered at the Hope Association’s center on Lincoln Avenue, the Rural Employment Network, will be moved to the new site in September.
He said it will provide space for several employment specialists and job coaches to train about 80 of the organization’s 100 clients. Sirois said the current site at the Lincoln Avenue building is not large enough to accommodate the new training program.
The Rural Employment Network aims to help developmentally disabled people get into the work force.
Sirois said the interior of the 82 Congress St. building is in excellent condition and does not need refurbishing. Whether the revolving door main entrance will be retained is not known at this time. When Cissel had the unique door installed several years ago, it was the only such door in Oxford County.
Sirois said the existing art center sign will soon be removed and be replaced by a Hope Association sign.
The social service agency is funded by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
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