The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 05, 1997, Page 12, Image 12

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Company acclimates
mentally challenged
VITAL from page 1
- To prepare for those jobs, clients strive
to learn job skills and adapt to a work
environment, Darla Wiesel, a Vital assis
tant manager, said.
“Through this organization, the clients
gain self-esteem and confidence in them
selves that is needed to get to that level of
employment,” she said.
Each client starts working at the bot
tom and receives on-the-job training.
About four clients are assigned to each
supervisor. Supervisors are always in the
workshop when the clients are working.
Some people take longer to learn the
skills, while others are quicker. But they
strive to eventually work their way to jobs
outsidesof Vital.
Anyone can apply to work at Vital.
There are no prerequisites. The handi
capped adults are notified of this organi
zation through their caseworkers.
The caseworker finds what
Developmental Disorderly Services are
available in Lincoln and lets the worker
tour the different companies to see which
one best fits the person’s needs. Vital also
draws its employees by referrals.
Vital has been in business for about a
year and a half and consists of 26 clients.
The clients are paid every two weefcs
based on how many birdhouses they build.
The agency provides all the transporta
tion for the clients to get to and from
work. The workday starts at about 8 a.m.
and ends at about 2:30 p.m. Some of the
clients live with their families, but most of
them have residential services to care for
The clients*put together the birdhouses
and feeders from start to finish them
selves. Clients start with enough materials
to make 100 birdhouses in each batch.
The workshop is set up like an assem
bly line. The clients start with the base of
the birdhouse and create all 100 of them.
They then work upward until all the wood
pieces are glued and stapled together.
Next the clients sand and paint the
,The clients then attach the roofs on top
4 - ;?-■
Through this
organization, the clients
gain self-esteem ...”
Darla Wiesel
Vital assistant manager
of the houses and scrfew a chain into the
roof. They then put Go Big Red stickers on
the roofs.
The birdhouses the clients build come
in two sizes: regular and deluxe. Vital sells
them at craft fairs throughout the city and
at Russ’s Market stores and Super Saver
grocery stores. They both sell for about
The clients take pride in building the
birdhouses from start to finish, Carter
said. Instead of building only a part of
something, they can feel good about the
fact that they built something from the
ground up.
The organization’s motto is “You can
not learn unless you fail.”
When working, the managers urge their
clients to try everything. And when clients
succeed at something, Wiesel said, their
whole attitudse change.
Supervisors say Rakestraw, a Vital
client who works in the office, is one of
those successes. Though he prefers phones
and computers to the wood shop tools, he
has proved how Vital can help develop job
skills for mentally challenged workers.
In the four months that Rakestraw has
worked at Vital, he has increased his typ
ing speed from two to three words a
minute to six br seven words a minute.
Brenda D'onner, a supervisor, said
Rakestraw has shown he is a hard worker.
“When I ask him to do something, he
will get right on it,” she said.
Carter said that type of success story is
Vital’s goal.
“If you see somebody do something
that they didn’t think they could do, their
eyes brighten, they get so happy.”