May 10, 1986, remains one of the happiest days of our lives. Our son Timmy came into this world at 12:13 p.m. But our tears of joy quickly became tears of fear. Our son had oxygen deprivation and faced some challenges. Fortunately, he survived and thrived but our biggest fear became what would he do in his adult years? How could he achieve satisfaction and maintain his social network? We only wanted him to live up to his potential, to be happy, healthy and productive. After graduating from high school, we explored the possibilities.
My name is Denise and I’m the Mother of Jamie, who is 35 years old and has Down syndrome. Jamie has been working at Lafayette Industries for 11 years. I’m happy knowing that Jamie has a nurturing work environment to go to each day with people who care about her and are qualified and well trained. Lafayette is a clean, safe and positive work environment with staff that really cares. When I pick Jamie up at work, no matter who walks by, the staff always shouts out a greeting – using their name – or gives a high five to them. There are over 250 employees working here, and I’m always amazed that everyone is called by their name and greeted so warmly.
My son Jason is 41, has a developmental disability, does not read or write, but has a job. He works at BCI – an awesome packaging company. Yes, Boone Center Inc. is a sheltered workshop, but it is much more than that. It’s a great place to work; it provides dignified, meaningful employment and a safe working environment. The employees look forward to going to work every day. The CEO, staff and supervisor are all great people, who enjoy working with employees that have disabilities.
On July 10, 1993, our son Tim was born. With these words, “Congratulations-you have a baby boy, and we think he has Downs syndrome,” our lives were changed. Tim has benefited in many ways from multitude of services through infancy to present day. At the magical age of 18, we were faced with the scary and daunting transition to adult services. There is a hard question that is prevalent among many families we know that, when the 18th birthday arrives, is he/she prepared or not for life after high school.
Journey for Life: When “Sheltered Workshops” Work
Nancy Geno brings a unique perspective to workshops. A former U.S. Marine with 20 years of healthcare experience, she retired three years ago and began serving as Community Relations Director at Valley Industries in Hazelwood. She also has a 65-year-old brother with developmental disabilities. Geno says the advantages of workshop must be seen to be understood. “The sense of pride, the self-esteem and friendships are so important,” she said. “At the end of the day, they often express a sense of completion and independence that’s awesome. They must have that chance and the right to choose.” Unfortunately, many want to limit those choices and assume everyone with a developmental disability can find employment in the private sector. States where that has been tried have experienced over 60 percent unemployment among people with disabilities. Other issues include exploitation, bullying and even sexual violence against this vulnerable group.
It’s Also Her Brother’s Story
My daughter Alison describes her work at Lafayette with these words and phrases: Happy, Appreciated, Friends, Paycheck, Important, Help others, Supervisors teach me a lot…I feel accomplished.
My name is Monique Stokes and I am a Special Education Process Coordinator at Laquey R-V School District in Missouri and a Board Member of the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop. I wanted to ask you to please oppose the WIOA and TIME Act and any other legislation that would be detrimental to the continuation of Sheltered Workshops and similar work opportunities for our most disabled individuals. I am uniquely positioned to see how beneficial these work opportunities are for these very valuable members of our society.