OGDEN — When the EnableUtah paper-shredding facility at 2437 Rulon White Blvd. went up in flames six weeks ago, a quick recovery didn't seem possible. But Weber County residents and business owners stepped up to help save employees' jobs.
EnableUtah is a nonprofit organization that provides jobs, training and employment services to adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.
"Our goal is to get everyone working that wants to work," said Gavin Hutchinson, president of the organization. "The tragedy, in my mind, is not that we had a fire as much as the impact it could have had on these disabled employees' lives."
"(This job) means everything to me. It keeps my independence," said Josh Nelson, an employee at EnableUtah. "It keeps me focused. It keeps me doing certain things where I'm not depressed or anything else like that."
Abbie Nelson, a 10-year employee of the company, was at work the day of the fire.
"I was really shocked, really depressed," she said. "I just couldn't believe it was happening."
Nelson and other workers feared they would lose their paychecks. The company had placed the workers impacted by the fire in another Ogden facility, but officials said it was only temporary, and time and resources were running out.
But Ogden businesses stepped up to offer donations and services.
"One of them specifically made a donation and said, 'Here's some money that we would like to donate to you so that you can keep paying individuals with disabilities their same rate of pay,'" Hutchinson said.
EnableUtah took out loans and bought new shredding equipment to run in the company's main building at 2640 Industrial Drive.Comment on this story
Hutchinson said business owners who had not even heard of the company are now interested, many asking to hire some of his employees at their own businesses.
A couple of fundraising concerts are planned for next month to help EnableUtah cover the cost of the new shredders. The concerts, featuring the Bar J Wranglers, are scheduled for May 4 at Layton High School, 440 Wasatch Drive, and May 5 at Weber State University's Val A. Browning Center, 1901 University Circle.
For more information, visit EnableUtah.org.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc