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VSI - Celebrating 35 Years of Service
Too often we take for granted the things that matter most to us. Whether it be close friends and family; the full service gas station on the corner; or maybe your trusty old dog, all of us take for granted the things that impact us –both on a large and small scale. It is amazing how little we recognize the significant influence other people and experiences have on our lives.
Many people in our community rely on the services that non-profit agencies provide. Like many other things, the importance of these agencies and the role they play is also too often unrecognized. Yet, if the truth be told, all of us are able to identify people we know who benefit from the valuable services non-profit agencies provides. Perhaps it is because we are so accustomed to the various agencies and their respective services that we take them for granted. Or, maybe it is because we are not aware of all the things they do for the community. Either way it seems that non-profits almost become transparent to the majority of the general public in the role they play, the people they impact, and the influence they have within the community.
Vocational Strategies, Inc., not unlike many other non-profit agencies, has been providing years of services to people of the Copper Country. In fact, this August commemorates the 35th Anniversary of Vocational Strategies, Inc. Originally founded as the Copper Country Workshop, Vocational Strategies, Inc. (VSI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, provides employment and vocational skills training for adults with Developmental Disabilities.
The Following Pictures are from the 35th Anniversary at McLain State Park on August 5, 2005
Through its vocational programs, VSI’s purpose is to help people with disabilities overcome the barriers to long-term employment and help them achieve their personal and vocational goals. This is accomplished through a careful mix of human and support services and functional, hands-on vocational training that meets the specific needs of the people VSI serves.
Kevin Store, VSI Executive Director, said that it is an exciting time for his agency. “We are celebrating our 35th year – that’s a long time for any kind of business. But we are more excited about where we are going.” Store said. Over the past couple years Vocational Strategies, Inc. has been working to become more integrated within the community.
When asked about some of their upcoming plans, Store offered that VSI is working to continue with program improvements and will be opening a retail outlet this fall. Store said that VSI has identified several training areas that will better meet the needs of VSI’s consumers. “Through donations and other forms of funding support, we’ve been working to develop the Self-advocacy component. Parts of it are in place and the remaining pieces will be added as we are able to fund them.” Store said.
VSI plans to use the retail outlet that will be located in Hancock to showcase the products that are built and sold by the employees of VSI. VSI uses the money earned from the sale of its merchandise to help fund its training programs. Like many people, this writer was under the common misperception that VSI was state or federally funded. However, the fact is that the revenue generated through the sale of merchandise, fees for services rendered, and individual donor contributions is what VSI uses to fund its program and create employment for the people with which they work.
The Following Pictures Give Some Idea of the Workshop and Products at VSI in Hancock at the Airport Park
Vocational Strategies, Inc. offers accredited services in a number of areas including Community Integration, Community and Organizational Employment, and Vocational Skill Development. Emphasis is being placed on the community employment and integration components of the program and VSI hopes to be more visible and active in the surrounding communities.
In addition to the services VSI provides, they also offer an equally diverse product line. The wood shop offers tongue and groove paneling, lumber planing, a full line of outdoor lawn furniture and accessories and sauna related products. All the products offered by VSI have been designed and built at its workshop located in the Houghton County Industrial Airpark.
If you’d like to learn more about VSI’s services, how to make a contribution, or check out its products visit them on the web at www.vocstrat.org.