Ability Resource Association is a non-profit, charitable organization founded in 1953 as "The Rehabilitation Society of Alberta for the Handicapped, Lethbridge Branch". Its primary emphasis was to increase public awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities, provide a way for disabled citizens to share their common concerns, and jointly relate their needs to appropriate government agencies and organizations.
In 1965, the name was changed to "The Rehabilitation Society of Lethbridge" and became incorporated under the Societies Act. The objective of the Society remained to cooperate with other associations to establish services for persons with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Society also recognized the need for a vocational setting to develop work habits and skills. In 1974, the Society changed its name to "The Rehabilitation Society of Southwestern Alberta".
The Society continues to operate at 1610 - 29th Street North, in a building constructed in 1981 to provide a vocational setting. This building provides many different environments to support people in a variety of ways. It also continues to be the main bottle depot site, and houses a small customized buttons and magnets operation.
Since that time, services have evolved. Where once it supported large groups doing mostly facility-based vocational activities, the Society now provides highly individualized community-based opportunities.
Since 1994, the Society has supported people to find and maintain employment. The Employment Supports service is now based out of JobLinks Employment Centre, at 416 - 8th Street South. The downtown building was purchased by the Society in 1998 to accommodate a branch bottle depot and a section of client services.
In 2005, Employment Supports renamed its service "JobLinks Employment Centre" to reflect the expansion into supporting a more diverse client base. JobLinks provides citizens with barriers to employment with employment skill exploration, employment acquisition and maintenance support through contracted funding with several departments of the provincial government.
In 2009, The Rehabilitation Society rebranded its main location on 29th Street North to be the "Ability Resource Centre." The new name better represented the focus of the services provided.
As we identify gaps in services or unmet community needs, we develop new services to address those needs. The most recent team developed is LIFE/Outreach (Learning, Independence, Freedom and Employment). It focuses on supporting young adults with disabilities develop a high level of independence, preparation for employment or post-secondary education, and provides outreach service hours beyond typical weekdays. LIFE is based out of both Ability Resource Centre and JobLinks.
In 2019, after 65 years of operation as the "Rehabilitation Society", the organization changed its legal name to "Ability Resource Association", to reflect the current focus of the organization.
The Association believes in continually improving to provide the best quality services. To ensure we continue to meet high standards of service delivery and health and safety, the Association maintains accreditation through the Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS), and a Certificate of Recognition (COR) through the Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships.