The Wood Shop
The Wood Shop, a separate entity owned and operated by DDCN, offers individuals a chance to learn carpentry skills by creating projects, disassembling pallets, cutting out and painting signs, and much more. Individuals are taught and supervised by the Project Manager to work with various power and manual tools. Individuals are trained on workplace safety and learn to follow a blu print to complete projects. Several individuals have been able to transition from a learning program to earning compensation for the completion of custom orders. When Projects are completed, DDCN buys the project from the individual, so that the individual can receive immediate compensation, as opposed to having to wait until the project sells to a member of the community. The Wood Shop creates custom orders of handcrafted wood furniture, pallet signs, and holiday decorations for any season.
An initiative that began with one person in a woodworking shed has grown into a vocational program for people with developmental disabilities.
The Woodshop was created by DDCN. People in the program learn woodworking and carpentry skills as a stepping point toward finding a job in the community.
For example, William See is an adult with cerebral palsy in the program.
“He has been attending the Woodshop program for a couple of months now and loves it. He is a hard worker, he takes pride in his work, and he likes building the furniture and seeing how he turns the lumber into useful items,” said Holly Boyd, Jay’s service coordinator with the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
The finished products are offered for sale to the public, including items such as deck chairs, butcher block kitchen islands, bookshelves, end tables, birdhouses and other home decor.
Mitchell tells more about the program and its impact.
The Woodshop is a vocational habilitation program that is part of Residential Community Care and is centered around woodworking. The Woodshop offers individuals with developmental disabilities a robust learning experience that is centered around building independence and success in work environments. For those individuals not able to maintain a job, we instruct the proper work skills necessary for employment and social skills necessary for working with co-workers, supervisors and those beyond the work environment.
At The Woodshop, our individuals learn in an environment that empowers them to be as independent as possible in the workforce. We use the woodworking as the resource to teach our individuals the proper social and communication skills needed to keep and maintain a job in the community. In addition, we work with them on learning and understanding why it’s important to appreciate the value of a good work ethic.
One big reason The Woodshop is unique is we pay each individual either $9 (Nebraska minimum wage) per hour when they’re working or per project. For many individuals, they now feel like they are finally earning a decent paycheck. This has led to many of our individuals having pride in their work. Many of our individuals have begun to recognize that by focusing on their abilities instead of their disabilities, they are getting one step closer to being as independent as possible.
Another reason The Woodshop is unique is that our individuals have many opportunities to be a part of their community while working at The Woodshop. Whether it is going to pick up materials or going to customers’ homes or business to install a project, they get an opportunity to be a part of that experience. Very rarely do any of our staff leave the shop without taking at least one individual with them. This helps further their education on how to communicate with customers as well as suppliers.
As with any person, learning what your gifts or strengths are is very valuable in life. This provides a greater opportunity for you to not only be productive but also enjoy that process. Many individuals with special needs will not further their education past high school. More often than not, any non-disabled person that doesn’t want to further their education will learn a trade. While learning this trade is important, if they don’t learn how to communicate effectively with their co-worker or boss, they are hindering their chances of being successful in that trade.
At The Woodshop we use the woodworking as our “tool” to teach the individuals the importance of good communication and social skills, therby providing them with a greater opportunity to gain and maintain a job in the community. Plus, they really enjoy the end product they helped create.