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.
Jason attend Special School District in St. Louis County until he was 21. He got job training the last four year of school, that helped him get a job, but it did not last very long. He was asked to leave after five months. He got another job cleaning at a fitness center. It lasted for four months, when he was asked to leave. The guys working out would always tell Jason he needed to go to East St. Louis to the watch the girls take their clothes off. So the environment was not so good. He found a third job working at a department store cleaning before the store opened. It too lasted only a few months after knocking over a cash register and taking shoes or clothing off the manikins. He was asked to leave. He now works at BCI – a sheltered workshop. He loves going to work every day. Jason has so many friends. While working the other jobs he had no friends and he only worked a few hours, two days a week. That left him with a lot of time with nothing to do.
Working at a sheltered workshop is a good thing. They work for six hours, five days a week, have friends to talk with at lunch, they are not picked on or taken advantage of. We as parents know they are working at a safe place. The pay may not be minimum wage, but they have extra money to buy CD’s, DVD’s, go to the movies and sporting events.
Please do not force sheltered workshops to pay minimum wages that will force them to close their doors. It would put most of the employees out of work with nothing to do at home and parents looking for someone to watch their adult children. Our adult children are choosing to work at sheltered workshops. Please come and take a tour of BCI or any other workshop to see what we are all about.