(Dancers perform at the grand opening event on Wednesday for New Perspectives, Inc. on 101 Westridge Drive. Photo by Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — With a celebration that included a Mexican dance, music and an open house, New Perspectives, Inc. officially opened its doors Wednesday in the space adjacent to the Register-Pajaronian.
Based in Sacramento, New Perspectives teaches life skills to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
“Our goal is to get people out of institutional settings and keep them with their families,” owner Sean Suh said. “This is my life’s work. At first it was a business, but every day I come to work and see what’s important.”
In addition to seven locations in the Sacramento area, the organization has locations in Gilroy and Salinas. The office in Watsonville is the first in Santa Cruz County.
For Suh, 41, establishing a location here was a kind of homecoming.
Suh was 18 when he left a gang lifestyle in his native Los Angeles to attend UC Santa Cruz. After a year of struggling to find his place in the college, Suh said he underwent a “transformative metamorphosis.”
“I came back to this region specifically because of my experience with UCSC,” he said.
Several dignitaries attended the grand opening, including Watsonville City Council members Nancy Bilicich, Jimmy Dutra, Trina Coffman-Gomez and Aurelio Gonzalez.
“These services are extremely needed in the community,” Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst said. “Those with disabilities need opportunities to socialize, thrive and find a place to grow.”
Inspirational quotes and bright colors make up the interior of New Perspectives, Inc. Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian