Cville Nonprofit Helps Clients with Disabilities Find Jobs
A Charlottesville nonprofit is putting hundreds of people with disabilities to work every day. Its clients have jobs in the community and even run a popular bakery.
WorkSource Enterprises considers itself Charlottesville's best-kept secret. It's opening its headquarters this week for a series of "friend-raisers" to show how its clients are gaining new experiences every day on the job.
For 10 years, Marie Wills has worked in the bakery at BreadWorks, daily.
"Five days is enough for me, but I love it," Wills said.
Behind the BreadWorks counter, Crystal Hensley wraps up handmade sandwiches for the lunch rush. She and Wills are getting on-the-job training in the bakery and deli operated by WorkSource.
"I've got good friends here, and I love everybody working here. They make my day and help me," Hensley said.
WorkSource is opening its offices for a series of what it calls "friend-raisers," inviting employers and potential donors to learn more about its job in the community. The nonprofit places 350 disabled or welfare-to-work clients in jobs and training programs each year.
"I don't think people in general have a good awareness of the abilities of people who happen to have disabilities," said Chuck McElroy, president of WorkSource Enterprises.
WorkSource clients brought in more than $1.25 million in income last year.
"As wages are generated, social entitlements go down as well. So, it's a win-win for the client, win-win for the community, and especially a real bonus for employers," McElroy said.
Ed Zizulka earns his paycheck as a custodian at Tandem Friends School.
"Always wanted to work with kids, but could never really do it," Zizulka said.
A disability got in his way of becoming a teacher, but WorkSource has offered him opportunity.
"It's changed my life," Zizulka said. "I enjoy what I'm doing; I enjoy what I do here."
After five years on the job, he has no plans to take a break from the hard work.
WorkSource will host two more friend-raisers Tuesday at its Carlton Avenue headquarters: one at noon and one at 5:30 p.m.