The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


December 22, 2013

Meaningful employment | Workshop clients are back on the job

JOHNSTOWN — There was a big party in Somerset recently, and attendees had every right to celebrate.

Shred Express fired up its shredding equipment in a building in the county’s industrial park. But, that wasn’t the cause for celebration.

The cause for joy was because some folks from the Bedford-Somerset Mental Health-Mental Retardation service were back to work – shredding stacks of documents.

Many of the workers had been employed by the former Gilmore Manufacturing, but lost their jobs assembling lawn and garden equipment when the company shuttered its doors.

“We have about 15 to 20 disabled individuals working here regularly now – some once a week, some five days a week,” said Jackie O’Conner, workshop director, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility.

It’s absolutely wonderful when meaningful work can be found for “consumers” of the Somerset County Workshop.

“The fact this is providing new work for people provides a way to get rid of documents locally and it means recycling – it makes this a great project,” said Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk.

O’Conner noted that projections are favorable for 2014.

“We feel really good about how things are going. Orders keep coming in. We think we’re going to be a lot busier next year.”

Many companies may pass on opportunities to hire the disadvantaged – citing a myriad of excuses. But these people have a desire to be needed and they want to prove they can be valuable assets to any company’s workforce.

We salute Shred Express, and also companies such as Slinky and Wheeler Bros., for giving meaningful employment and, more importantly, paychecks to the nonprofit’s consumers.

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