Vocational center for disabled hosts open house | NevadaAppeal.com

Vocational center for disabled hosts open house

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Barbara Burton, PEAKS program coordinator, talks Friday about a silk-screening machine at the new vocational center.

Pull, wash, turn, dry.

While some clients won’t get further than working in the shirt screening shop run by REM Nevada Inc., the purpose of its new vocation center, which houses the business, is to help people with developmental disabilities have a normal life, said Barbara Burton, who coordinates programs at the center.

She said it is possible to get a job as a disabled person without the center, but too often people “have been kept in back rooms and kind of hidden from the community.”

The vocational center, called Positively Encouraging Academic Knowledge and Skills (PEAKS), will have an open house on Tuesday.

Besides screen printing, the for-profit organization will contract with businesses to do jobs at the center or elsewhere such as animal care, housekeeping, janitorial work, nursery watering and shredding. The center is working to contract with businesses close by as much as possible.

Clients will make at least minimum wage because the center is not a nonprofit.

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Burton said most families of clients have liked the idea of having those with disabilities work in public, but people still have misconceptions, she said.

“They don’t look like you and I, and that is where a lot of the problems stem from,” she said.

So far, seven people have signed up with the center, one facet of an organization that also runs residential and educational programs.

Rusty Waters, an assistant director at the center, has worked in a vocational shop like this before and said it’s good for people with disabilities.

“I think it’s important they get out in the community and see what real life’s about,” he said.

PEAKS is working on getting contracts with many of the companies it wants to do business with, such as Medallic Art Co. in Dayton. For that company, the vocational center would attach ribbons to medals.

Company President Robert Hoff said he hasn’t decided if he’s interested. Usually when the company gets busy with that kind of work, he pulls people from other departments to cover the rush.

His business contracted with a center for visually impaired people when the company was in another state and workers stuffed envelopes.

REM Inc. was founded about 35 years ago in Minnesota and provides housing, in-home, vocational and community services in 32 states.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

If you go

What: Open house for a vocational center ran by REM Nevada Inc.’s PEAKS program

When: 1-5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: 244 E. Winnie Lane, next to 5 Buck Pizza

Contact: 841-5509

Other centers offering employment assistance or advice for people with developmental disabilities:

Rural Regional Center

1665 Old Hot Springs Road, Suite 164

687-5162

Nevada Bureau of Vocation Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Division

1370 S. Curry St.

684-4070

Ormsby ARC

4611 Goni Road

882-8520

Holdsworth Inc.

2049 California St., No. 3

882-6222

Educare Carson

102 S. Nevada St.

884-2337