People with disabilities in Queens County are making a difference in their community, while gaining work-related skills, thanks to the Riverbank General Store. The store, located beside the Medway River in Mill Village, will celebrate its official grand opening later this week. Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse visited the General Store today, Aug. 9. Sponsored by the Queens Association for Supported Living (QASL), the store gives people with disabilities an opportunity to gain work-related skills and participate more fully in their community. “The Riverbank General Store is a perfect example of the exceptional programs around this province that help make life better for people with disabilities,” said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse. “This is obviously a place the community values and staff love to come to work.” The general store features a bakery and café, as well as grocery items, including free range and organic products. Its gift shop showcases the work of local artisans, as well as items produced by participants in another QASL program, Penny Lane Enterprises. The province invested $150,000 in start-up funding for the profitable, fully sustainable venture. Queens Association for Supported Living offers several vocational, life skills and community-based employment programs as well as residential services for persons with disabilities. “Riverbank has found, and fulfilled, a niche in our community,” said Murray Kirkpatrick, administrator of Queens Association for Supported Living. “The success here clearly shows the positive difference that can be made in the lives of persons with disabilities when community organizations and government work together.” This investment is the latest in a series of recent improvements to expand services for Nova Scotians with disabilities. The province has increased investments in such programs by $19 million since 2009, bringing the annual budget to nearly $255 million.