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A Workshop for Opportunities

Idaho Falls organization celebrates 40 years empowering the community

Published online: May 22, 2019 Articles, Best of IF, CommuniTeam, Looking Back
Viewed 885 time(s)

Right in the heart of our very own community of Idaho Falls, an organization has been changing and improving lives every day for more than 40 years. Maybe you’ve heard of Development Workshop and their work to help those who are disabled or disadvantaged learn life skills and gain more independence. Along with that, they do so much more than you could ever imagine.

Development Workshop is a non-profit organization with a mission “to assist individuals who have a disability or who are disadvantaged to recognize and to achieve their chosen level of economic and social independence.”

In order to help achieve their mission, Development Workshop teaches life skills, offers vocational training, and places individuals into paid employment opportunities, whether that is within their own facilities or throughout Eastern Idaho. 

Development Workshop is, first and foremost, a community rehabilitation program, but they do so much more than this in order to better support their mission.


Manufacturing

Something you may not know about this organization is that they are contract manufacturers. They work with businesses locally and nationally - including several federal agencies - to manufacture products that require injection molding, industrial sewing, packaging, assembly, die cutting, mass mailings, and just about everything in between.

With these contracts that they acquire, Development Workshop is better able to serve their clients by providing paid employment opportunities with real-world job experience and putting the money back into their organization.

“One of the goals we have as managers is not to be physically performing the job, it’s to develop our people so they can perform the job - so they can grow,” said Melody Grivet, Sewing Production Manager at Development Workshop.

Some of the items that Development Workshop is currently producing and packaging includes flashlights, tape dispensers, cot poles, U-tips, and leather pouches for the US Postal Service.

Most, if not all, of the work that goes into these products is done by their clients and the individuals whom they serve.

Development Workshop has experienced production managers who oversee their process and quality controls. The production workers are learning on the job and gaining new skills under their watchful eye, ensuring quality is never compromised.

“At least eighty-five percent of all the direct labor that’s done on any of these projects is performed by individuals who have a disability,” said Greg Katainen, VP of Marketing at Development Workshop.  

We can even take a brief look behind the scenes of a product they currently have a federal contract for. One product Development Workshop is producing more often than not is a plastic tape dispenser.

To begin the manufacturing process for the dispenser, a steel mold was created for it and placed into a large injection molding machine. A specified amount of plastic resin, or material, is then placed into the machine to be melted down and injected into the mold. It then goes through a cooling process in which the item hardens into its shape. The product is then ejected from the mold and other individuals will complete the assembly and packaging processes.

Development Workshop always has ongoing manufacturing projects like this one, and they have the capacity to take on even more.

Community Employment

Another important aspect of Development Workshop’s mission is to place individuals into competitive jobs within this community. Their community employment services provide assistance to individuals in securing and retaining employment through job development and skills training.

They are able to place people into jobs who might never have worked before - or who might never have had the opportunity otherwise.

“Some of my happiest times are when we’re getting to the point when they can go out and take on a job someplace else and succeed at it,” Grivet said.

In 2018, Development Workshop placed 77 individuals into jobs and helped serve a total of 146 individuals with training and job development.

Many individuals who come to Development Workshop are able to gain job development through the manufacturing services at their facilities. Others who have more job experience may need help marketing themselves and finding work. Development Workshop is willing to work with anyone.

Once Development Workshop places someone in a job, they’ll provide what they term a “follow along”, where they follow up with the individual’s employer to make sure everything is going well and offer to provide any additional training that might be needed.

They also contract with local school districts to help give students job and life skills training.


Community Involvement

Some of the community events that Development Workshop helps with each year include prepping the ducks for the Greenbelt Duck Race, stuffing eggs for the Rexburg Easter Egg Hunt, and helping to organize the Festival of Trees.

They work with individuals in Salmon, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Rexburg, and everywhere in between.

Development Workshop is way more than just a place for people with disabilities to go each day. They train and uplift, they provide jobs and help move people into the workforce. They are an economic engine in Eastern Idaho and have a huge community impact.

Not only are the community and individuals served impacted by this organization, but the employees who work there and help serve this community come home at the end of each day feeling gratified.

“I love my job,” Grivet said. “I can’t pick a favorite part. From the team that I’m surrounded with to the challenges that I face of putting a new product together. All of it is just amazing. I spent 22 years in retail and I never felt the satisfaction I feel here.”

“For me, it’s the variety of all the things that we’ve hard to learn because we are so diverse,” Katainen said. “You have to be able to grow and learn and it is just a kick because you get to do so many different things. It isn’t the same thing all the time. It’s finance, human resources, marketing, manufacturing, you’ve got to learn it. You’d never do this somewhere else.”

To learn more about Development Workshop, visit www.dwinc.org.


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