By Tami Bock, Capitol Projects
For 54 years, Capitol Projects has been a place where adults with disabilities have been able to work and use their skills to be active, contributing members of their community. In 1968, some Jefferson City parents that all had children with disabilities were seeking options for them after completing school. While a few were able to be part of day programs, most stayed home without any opportunity to use the skills they had learned in school. With real vision, these parents realized that gainful employment would do more than just give their children a paycheck – it would give them a place to go where they would learn work skills, get to put those skills to use and gain a sense of pride. Our mission grew out of this – to provide meaningful and dignified employment for disabled adults in Jefferson City and the surrounding area.
We currently have 90 employees who perform various jobs that are subcontracted through businesses locally and throughout the state. Our work includes shrink wrapping, decollating, small parts assembly, a little recycling and we have a fully-equipped mailroom. All our employees have disabilities, but we focus on their abilities. We have a sign in the office that says “Teamwork makes the dream work” which is so true of our workplace. We operate as a team where each individual performs a specific step in the work process in order to complete the job. Our supervisors provide assistance and direction in helping each employee be their most productive self. Providing work for our employees is our main focus, but our customers benefit from our services, too. They receive competitive pricing and quality work from the happiest and best workforce in our community.
We are one of 28 United Way agencies working together to serve people in need in our community. We’re encouraged as United Way agencies to PARTNER together to bring hope to those in need and see to it that no one falls through the cracks – where the services of one agency leaves off, another picks up. We partner with several agencies, but rely daily on Osage County Community Living (OCCL). Thanks to United Way money, OCCL was able to purchase 2 large vans that are used to transport clients they serve to various sites. Of most importance to the workshop are the 15 employees that ride in those vans everyday from Osage County to come to work at Capitol Projects.
The newest employee from Osage County is Harley – a quiet, sweet and very shy young woman. She had tried competitive employment but had been unsuccessful in her attempts and began attending OCCL’s day program a couple days a week. During that time, it became evident that her living situation was very unstable and not healthy for her to continue in. She needed a safe place to live and thrive, and OCCL was able to provide that for her through their apartment program. With housing settled, she decided she wanted to try working at Capitol Projects like the other apartment residents. Because she was under the age of 25, she didn’t meet the federal requirements. It was a struggle getting approval; but thanks to the persistence of OCCL’s staff and the workshop association’s Board President, they were able to hasten the process and she started work in September, 2021. She has grown into a more confident, helpful and polite young woman. She is able to perform some of the higher skilled jobs and is always willing to help where needed. One surprise is that she knows some sign language and is able to communicate with one of our hearing-impaired employees. Seeing him smile and have a friend that talks with him is a sight we never get tired of. As for Harley, she continues to work hard, has found new friendships, grown in self-confidence and is a great “teammate” at Capitol Projects.
Capitol Projects is a proud United Way of Central Missouri partner agency!