Shen-Paco looking for jobs for its clients, donations for new thrift store
By Katie Demeria
QUICKSBURG -- For 40 years, Shen-Paco Industries has provided jobs to disabled individuals in the area who have no other source of employment. Now the agency is calling on the community for help.
A few weeks ago, Executive Director K.K. Stroop was told one of the agency's largest contractors, Hangers Unlimited, was purchased by a larger company and had closed smaller facilities like Shen-Paco that sort the hangers.
Hanger sorting provides a great deal of work to the 150 people using Shen-Paco's services. It keeps them busy every day, and according to Stroop, that is what they want most.
"If we weren't here to serve those folks, most of them would be sitting at home and doing nothing," Stroop said.
The agency has been actively looking for ways to continue providing employment to those they serve.
One area they are hopeful about, Stroop said, is Shen-Paco Gift and Thrift, a new thrift shop opening just outside Woodstock within the next few weeks.
Shen-Paco is looking for thrift donations, Stroop said, which will provide work for some of their clients, including laundering and sorting the clothes. Their clients will also make the gifts sold at the shop.
Even this work, though, will not be enough to continuously employ all those Shen-Paco serves, Stroop said.
She and her staff have been actively searching for places in the community where their clients can work.
"They want to stay busy and they want to get their paychecks, just like the rest of us," Stroop said.
Many are employed now through day and night janitorial jobs, and Stroop said the agency is hoping to find more day janitorial positions, or positions that include sorting, such as mail or clothes.
"Anything that you think might be too small, we could probably do, we could fill that gap," she said.
Shen-Paco's clients are now working on making Easter wreaths that will be sold in the thrift shop -- they sit in chatty groups threading colorful ribbons onto wires. But they are aware that they will no longer be able to sort hangers, which used to be a big part of their daily routines.
Many of those working at Shen-Paco live in group homes, according to Program Director Mickie Duncan. The agency allows them to spend their days working on goals and trying to improve themselves.
Duncan said they meet every day with program coordinators who help them make both short and long term coals.
"Their goals could be to write their name, basic math skills, learn their addresses and phone numbers, or even to learn to read," Duncan said.
Stroop and Duncan said the agency has grown quite a bit in the past 40 years. Even now, Duncan said they are growing by three or four clients very year.
Adding even one client to their program is significant, Duncan said. The agency is providing for their everyday needs, which includes education, employment and, a very important aspect of Shen-Paco, social outlets.
"We're like one big family," Duncan said. "We always say that we work for them, they don't work for us."
There are many things, Stroop said, that the community can do to help those Shen-Paco serves.
"I would just like for the community to be more accepting of people with disabilities overall," she said.
Shen-Paco is selling wreaths at $12 each, and next week will start accepting donations for their thrift shop.
Those interested in buying a wreath or making a donation can call their Quicksburg office at (540) 477-2049.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org