Image Credit: James Forsyth
Vernon Holtz is an endearing man who worked as a sander in the furniture workshop at Community Living North Bay. However, shortly after these photos were taken, the workshop program was shut down. Manager Ken Sykes says the closure reflects a new way of looking at the intellectually disabled.
"I've been thirty years in the business and I remember when keeping everyone busy was the focus. Now, we're talking more about the individual, and work that helps each person move forward. Vernon was happy in the workshop, but now it's more about independence and a personal plan. The sheltered workshop industry can sometimes stall people who could do more. Take JP for instance."
JP, pictured playing baseball with his son, Cody, worked in the workshop and also at various places in town. Ken says JP has his sights set on a job at Home Depot; closing the workshop may give him increased incentive to make that happen.
Ken says, "The sheltered workshops were well intended. But now we help people like JP connect with new people and paid work. And we'll pay close attention to what will be best for Vernon. We're talking about programs that reflect individuality."