Gila Employment & Special Training (GEST) program concludes after 30 years

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For more than three decades Gila Employment & Special Training, administered through Gila County Community Services Department, has provided services to adults with development disabilities - helping enhance their lives, allowing them to live in the least restrictive environments, to live independently in their homes. The numbers of clients have decreased during recent years with deaths of some, others moving away from the area, and - most recently - Covid-19 health concerns. With declining enrollment and funding, Gila County’s Community Services Director Malissa Buzan announced this week that the GEST program comes to an end this fall.

“GEST has been a wonderful program and such a big support to all its members and their families for many years,” said Buzan. “I believe the services Gila County provided to GEST participants was above and beyond what other programs offer, and I commend Program Manager Helene Lopez and a team of exceptional staff who have shown such a commitment to providing the best quality of care and services to all its members. Staff transported and supported the members to their doctors and optometry appointments, physical therapy, surgeries and so many other essential services … and provided the best coordination of care with all the members’ teams. This program truly made  a difference in so many lives, and we thank everyone for their support of our program and wish them well.”

“With declining enrollment and associated funding, GEST is not being replaced. Remaining clients are being helped find service providers local to the area where they live, for services they continue to receive. GEST is committed to helping with the transitions for each member and ensuring that everything goes as smoothly as possible,” said Buzan.

The GEST program has been in business since the late 1990s when it debuted as the Demonstration Program, before the name changed to Gila Employment & Special Training. GEST provided its members

with several services such as Habilitation Services, Employment Services, Day Treatment Programs and

Vocational Rehabilitation; services designed to help members maintain their independence and continue as active members within their communities. Read more about other programs administered through Gila County’s Community Services Program at gilacountyaz.gov.

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