I used to frequent a restaurant on Saturday mornings, and there was a group of older men who sat in the corner and drank coffee together. It was usually the same bunch of eight to ten although occasionally someone new would join and a regular would drop out. The men liked to sit and solve the world’s problems over steaming cups of black coffee. You wouldn’t find these guys drinking flavors like Irish Mocha or French Vanilla or adding whipped cream to their drinks. These were men with nicotine stained fingers that sometimes bothered to shave the overnight stubble but just as likely would not. Many of their faces were deeply lined and their skin was leathery from years of hard work in the sun. None of these men had ever paid for a tan. They would discuss politics, religion and every other topic that is forbidden and occasionally the political talk would become heated, but eventually cooler heads would prevail and the local sports teams would become the unifying subject they could all agree on. Some of these men were obviously farmers. They proudly wore caps with the logo of their favorite farm machinery on them, and a couple wore overalls every week. Others had been businessmen, factory workers, and truck drivers. But the one thing they all had in common was the fact that they had served their country in the military.
THE MEADOWS VOCATIONAL TRAINING & EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
The Meadows Center for Opportunity, Inc., is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization which has been serving the vocational training needs of adults with developmental disabilities. Since 1983, the Meadows has provided these individuals with the opportunity to work, socialize, and focus on a positive future.
Our employees are involved in a variety of job tasks and business services, including product assembly, packaging, and data destruction. Through this vocational training, our workers obtain the job skills necessary for continued employment and learning. Some of our employees achieve complete independence and self-sufficiency as a result of the skills developed in our sheltered workshop. All gain increased confidence and self-worth in discovering productive skills and earning an income.
Our mission is to provide each person the training and opportunity necessary to realize his or her maximum employment productivity.
What is a Sheltered Workshop?
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD) offers a number of services to help those with a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability. State funded services include sheltered workshops, which provide assessment, training, and transitional services that may lead to community job placement.
According to the OKDHS, sheltered workshops “allow individuals to work and receive training in a controlled environment with many other people with disabilities.” Workers not only receive vocational training, but they are paid in accordance with individual production and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Nonprofit agencies, such as The Meadows Center for Opportunity, Inc., operate sheltered workshops and may contract with businesses to provide work for sheltered employees. Services are funded by the state and the Home and Community-Based Waiver (HCBW).
To find out more about sheltered workshops in Oklahoma, please visit the Oklahoma Department of Human Services website.