Happy 36th Birthday, ATI

What began as Lawrence Rehabilitation Services Center, Incorporated, a small nonprofit in Lawrence back in 1979, has grown into the American Training family we know and love today.

How did we get here? A group of exceptional people with an intense love and passion for serving those in our community.

Below a few of our Colleagues, some who have been here since the very start, share some of their favorite moments and memories from the past 36 years.

“In just over three short decades, we have gone from the new kids on the block to a recognized leader in services to people with disabilities and those receiving assistance. It has been 36 years of making life matter for the thousands of people we have served. During those 36 years, I have seen, first-hand, people we serve go from uncertain futures to making their lives more meaningful and making their dreams come true!” – Tom Connors, 36 years, President, CEO, and Co-Founder.
“It is amazing to me how quickly time has passed in the 25 years I have worked at American Training, Inc.  Not only being part of the growth and successes of the company but raising a family and being able to balance them both.  They say time flies when you are having fun and do I ever agree.” – Jennifer Laurin, 25 years, Staff Accountant.
“I am proud to be a long-time Colleague at American Training and to have had the opportunity to see and be a part of its transformation. To see what began in 1979 on Haverhill Street in Lawrence with thirty Colleagues, a sheltered workshop and two small DDS programs grow into the American Training of today is truly WOW! Magic.” – Rose Cleveland, 36 years, Chief Financial Officer.
“My time spent with the American Training Family has been very similar to The DASH, a poem written by Linda Ellis. The experiences I have had and the years spent teaching and learning have been a most powerful passion for me.  Over the years, many people have come and gone, often making life ever so bittersweet.  We have carried our services to the fullest that life has to offer, both for our friends we serve and support and for our Team, whom we count on to make that special outcome real. Every day I learn something new.  My position as a Residential Manager at ATI has given me many opportunities: making ‘Life Matter’, seeing the WOW! Magic we’ve created, and always looking to tomorrow. I am very proud to part of this organization and the American Training Family.” – Bethany Colbath, 21 years, Residential Manager.
“When I started here 24 years ago, LARE Institute had a Clerical Program where we taught typing, filing, and an introduction to Word for Windows. Now, LARE Institute is a Microsoft Office Testing Center in two locations.” – Carole Giordano, 24 years, Licensing Coordinator.
“I feel pride. I’ve been here for over 15 years and always knew we played an important role in people’s day to day lives. Now when friends, family and others ask where I work and they say ‘Yeah, I see those vans everywhere’, I have the opportunity to let everyone know what we do every day, and I’m very proud of that.” – Dave Moynihan, 15 years, Human Resources Generalist.
“Back in the day, 1979 BW (before WOW!), I was doing sub-contract work development on the road for our sheltered workshop. Besides the workshop we had training areas in welding, material handling, carpentry, drafting and electronics. I don’t remember the year but our name changed to Lawrence Rehab and we moved to Glenn Street in Lawrence. Our name changed again to American Training Inc. and our sheltered workshop became Contract Services. During our stay at Glenn Street, Spring Break came into play. I guess you could call this AW (after WOW!). Again I don’t remember the year because when you’re having fun, time flies. Thirty-six years later and what a difference!” – Ron Fanion, 36 years, Director of Vanway.
“I started working for American Training 13 years ago at Pinehill. What amazes me is the longevity of the Colleagues, I am still working with a lot of the same Colleagues from when I started here. WOW! I have seen Residents come to us from Institutions and now because of Specialized Housing, they are fully integrated into the community trying things like skiing, surfing, volunteering, working, all living their lives to the fullest!” – Hiedi Keefer, 13 years, Assistant Director of Specialized Housing.
“I have seen a lot of changes since I started here. What sticks in my mind the most is the impact that I have been able to have on the lives of others. For example, I have helped train some of the LARE Students at the reception area and I have even been able to see them use those skills to better their lives.” – Edwin Mejia, 15 years, Receptionist, HR Assistant.
“I remember when American Training took over transport contracts from Laidlaw. We weren’t called American Training then, we were called Lawrence Rehab. I believe the year was 1986, I went to the parking lot of 34 Haverhill Street for three days straight. I was waiting to catch Tom Connors, I wanted to ask him to hire me.” – Gail Lahey, 30 years, Driver and Former Director of Transportation.
“Obviously, over the past 19 years, I’ve seen many changes at American Training, Inc.  Our tiny little [StarWorks] program has evolved and is even more diverse than ever!  When I first started here, we mainly placed people into jobs in one of 3 categories – light assembly, food service, and janitorial!  We eventually ‘chased’ LARE and were able to refer our MRC Guests for training and this has also evolved into a great working relationship with LARE and MRC.” – Denise Michaud, 19 years, Director of StarWorks.

Check out photos from throughout the years that show our growth as a family and the changes and growth in the places we’ve called home:

 “Many years ago, in the early WOW! days, the Business Office had a poetry contest for Valentine’s Day.  Attached is a poem I wrote reflecting StarWorks’ attitude at American Training.  Although the purple walls and yellow stars are not here at Campanelli, the sentiment still rings true,” said Michaud.

The poem:


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We’re committed to bringing out the best in everyone.
We promise to make Life Matter.

We look forward to hearing from you!