Vocational Rehab Program

About the Restoration Project’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program


Our mission is to restore neurologically impaired individuals to self-sustaining lives by offering them remedial, transitional employment and facilitating their integration in the community.

Eloise Newell
r and Director

Restoration Project is an award-winning nonprofit vocational rehabilitation program serving adults and adolescents with mental illnesses and brain injuries. More than 300 individuals have participated in our program since we began in 1993.

Our participants principally include adults with mental illnesses and brain injuries, high school students with special needs, and veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries.

They join us on a private pay basis by self-referral and with the encouragement of their therapists and residential counselors. They may also come with referral and funding by the Mass Rehabilitation Commission and the Department of Secondary Education.


Participants apprentice two days a week in our furniture finishing and upholstering shop. Our staff and volunteers work closely with each person to foster self-esteem, social skills, motor skills, and transferable work skills. These skills prepare program participants for competitive employment and interacting with others. They help participants go on to enjoy meaningful, fulfilling, and self-sustaining lives.

Working with furniture is especially suited to these goals because the work feels meaningful and participants can take pride in the results. The training methods we use are based on education and therapy models—adult education, Montessori method, and cognitive behavior therapy—that improve cognitive functioning, counteract the deficits caused by neurological disorders, and facilitate recovery.

The program is challenging because it requires the learning of new skills. It is also highly rewarding because the participants take pride in their accomplishments and new-found skills. Our employment specialist works with participants from the start to identify their strengths and values to tailor their job search.

Thrift Store Apprenticeship

Working in our adjacent thrift store is typically the second step in preparation for competitive employment. Participants engage in every aspect of retail operations including receiving and processing donations, displaying and selling merchandise, and interacting with customers and donors.

Becoming Part of a Community

Community involvement is an important part of our program. Interaction with donors, customers, and volunteers gives our participants a context that helps develop the social skills and confidence to integrate into their new work environments and communities.

Finding Competitive Employment

Once a participant is identified as ready to move on from the program to a competitive employment environment, we provide employment assistance.

Our employment specialist helps participants identify employment tailored to their interests and abilities using interest and aptitude testing, individual counseling, pre-employment role-playing, and job-search assistance. Post-employment support is also provided as needed.


Restoration Project is a WMBE-certified woman-operated business. Our dedicated staff of four includes Eloise Newell, founding director, Lori Kluender, store manager, Kathy Flynn, office administrator, and Nancy Guppy, the employment specialist, who is a registered nurse.


Our director is a former teacher and a certified peer specialist [1] with extensive experience working with individuals with mental illnesses. The office administrator and employment specialist are former participants of the program, demonstrating our regard for individuals with disabilities and the importance we place on peer counseling. The store manager supervised a Goodwill store prior to joining our program, and is experienced working with and supporting individuals with disabilities.

Our skilled woodworkers, finishing, and upholstering teachers are volunteers from the community as are many in the retail program. Students from area high schools fulfill community service requirements by working in our store.


For more information about participating in Restoration Project’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, please email  our director, Eloise Newell or contact her by phone at 617-489-1000.

If you do not reach us directly, be sure to leave a phone number, a brief summary of your background and interests and the best time to reach you.

We rely on community volunteers and financial contributions to fulfill our mission of recovery and reintegration for individuals with mental illnesses and brain injuries.

Learn more about making a financial contribution to our vocational rehabilitation program. Fully 100% of your donations go directly to help sustain the program.

Learn more about rewarding volunteer opportunities in our vocational rehabilitation program.

[1] Training by National Transitions Centers as a peer supporter and advocate for individuals with mental illnesses, and an agent for system change