Quadco Executive Director Bruce Abell passed out a news story about a plan in New York to phase out sheltered workshops in that state in the next five years.
Mr. Abell pointed out that several other states on the east and west coast have taken similar actions. Ohio has not set a formal deadline at this point, he said, but informal indicators give the impression they are on a similar timetable.
He said that news stories such as this across the country are showing a divergence of responses. On one side, he has read of people who feel the action is not right, that they should have a choice, and don’t understand why these measures are being taken. They view sheltered workshops as a good thing.
On the other side of that there are advocate groups that consider sheltered workshops as a violation of people’s right, as segregated environments that pay subminimum wages and view sheltered workshops in a negative way.
“I think for the people that have been involved in programs like Quadco, I can’t speak for any others, but for programs like Quadco, they very much appreciate what they have here,” he said, “ and I think it would be very difficult for any of the people that come here to find that they couldn’t come here anymore.”
Mr. Abell told the board members that the center has addressed all of the financial issues that have been discussed at previous board meetings.
He said the center has reduced personnel expenses, has increased the amount of production work, and has been controlling expenses.
He said they have been cutting back on programs where there are small numbers of people and the center does not receive enough funding to cover the expenses of operating the programs.
As Mr. Abell mentioned last month, the operation of the Subway restaurants has turned out to be one of those areas. He told the board that Subway restaurants typically use a successful model that employs a small staff, making them a cost-efficient operation. But the restaurants Quadco operates have a regular staff and trainers and the people being trained.
An ongoing analysis of the program showed that the center has been receiving training fees for the people being served as if they were in much larger groups rather than in the intimate training setting they were. Consequently, the fees being received fail to cover their costs creating a loss at the stores.
As a result of the situation, Mr. Abell said the center has contacted local Subway officials to let them know they will be offering the stores for sale.
The center will be meeting with the people involved in the training program there so that they can work on transitioning into other programming to meet their needs.
Program Director Philip Zuver reported that there has been an increase in assembly work at the center. He said that there is a strong demand for the cardboard pallets made by the center, and the production has expanded from their Archbold plant into the Stryker facility as well.
Marketing Director Bill Priest noted that the men’s and women’s club members visited an 1,100-head dairy farm recently. They learned about the jobs available at the farm and got some hands on experience with milking some cows, saw how the feed was prepared and distributed, watched newborn calves begin their lives and fed some of the calves at the farm.
Mr. Priest said the art club members worked on blocks of wood, painted them and added sea shells to create beach door hangers this month.
He said the garden club members have been getting a good harvest of tomatoes recently and the senior activity center participants spent some time making lighthouses and stirring up some strawberry homemade ice cream.
The next meeting of the Quadco board is scheduled for September 23 in the conference room at the Stryker building.