THE RUMOR’S BEEN out there for a while–Lakestate Industries out on M-28 is closing down!
Nope. Untrue. The private nonprofit agency, which provides employment and training for the intellectually disabled, is not closing down but it will be undergoing changes in the next couple months as required by federal legislation.
They’re calling it the “Transformation Plan.” It’s been in the works for the last year or so.
The big change: the production room, where 10-20 of Lakestate’s clients have been assembling Firestarters (now distributed in 46 states) and shredding documents for businesses, will be reduced in size. To maybe only five workers, and they might, in fact, be mixed in with fully able employees from the outside.
Which also means that many of the clients who’ve been doing these tasks for the last couple of years will no longer have their jobs.
The reasoning here is that the government doesn’t want all the clients segregated into their own work program, away from the rest of society. It wants them mainstreamed, if possible.
So how will that be done, especially with the less capable of Lakestate’s clients?
“Everybody has employable skills,” says Emily Wash, the development and employment specialist at Lakestate. “We just have to find out what they are. We need local businesses to help us out. We can provide coaching and we can pick up the slack so that it’s mutually beneficial for our clients and the businesses.”
So they’re looking for partners, businesses that will employ the clients in jobs they can handle.
In the meantime, the Lakestate staff will continue coaching them in life skills and work skills while working hard to place them in jobs on the outside.
A tough task–for both the the staff and Lakestate’s 75 clients. Change is never easy, especially when it’s clouded by uncertainty.
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