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Ridgefield’s Prospector Theater Praised For Employing Disabled Adults

The Prospector Theater in Ridgefield is dedicated to finding jobs for people with disabilities. Valerie Jensen of Ridgefield is the founder of the Prospector Theater.
The Prospector Theater in Ridgefield is dedicated to finding jobs for people with disabilities. Valerie Jensen of Ridgefield is the founder of the Prospector Theater. Photo Credit: File

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi recently toured the Prospector Theater, a new nonprofit movie theater that is dedicated to providing job training and employment for adults with disabilities.

Himes’ visit to the soon-to-be open theater was part of his 17 Towns in 17 Days tour of Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District.

“Far too often, Americans with disabilities who have the ability and desire to work don’t have access to job training and employment opportunities,” Himes said.

“The Prospector Theater is a remarkable private investment that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in Ridgefield’s community. It’s also an economic asset for downtown Ridgefield that the entire community will be able to enjoy.”

Ridgefield resident Valerie Jensen founded the Prospector Theater, which is located on the site of the old Ridgefield Playhouse. Jensen's vision for the Prospector came from her work leading SPHERE - Special People Housing Education Recreation and Employment - which helps people with disabilities. “The answer to the unemployment epidemic among adults with disabilities is in our own backyard, on every Main Street in America,” Jensen said. “Employment opportunities are in our local movie theaters, restaurants and shops."

“The Prospector represents the best of private investment in our community,” Marconi said. “It’s a new movie theater built by a private family that will not only bring economic vitality to our downtown but also create a work environment for people with developmental disabilities."

The Prospector currently has 10 full-time employees, called “prospects,” and it aims to hire about 60 people to work part-time jobs by the end of the first year.

Opportunities include working at the theater’s concession stand, the restaurant, or working behind the scenes on the film projectors or sound systems. The theater will also train people with disabilities to produce, shoot and edit films.

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