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Jackson Industry offers opportunity for developmentally disabled

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

By Beverly Harris-Walker

bwalker@myjpa.com

What has come to be known as Jackson Industry, a division of the Butts County Developmental Disability Center, has served area businesses since 1973.

The mission of the program is to offer individuals experiencing symptoms associated with mental illness, addictive disease or developmental disabilities the hope for optimal functioning by providing quality behavioral health services and support. At least some of that support is provided through a work program.

It began in 1973 as a program at the center, located at 415 Kennedy Drive in Jackson, focusing solely on work such as assembling alternators, hinges and card pallets, and evolved in 1980 to what is now known as Jackson Industry.

The program is led by Pamela Head, director of the center and Jackson Industry, and Patty Moss, Jackson Industry's manager.

According to Moss, the program shifted its focus around 1980 to begin training employees in areas that would allow them to have more public interaction.

"The state recommended that we implement work opportunities that took the group out into the public. That is why we began the cleaning service we provide," said Moss. "It has been a very successful and fulfilling change for everyone involved."

Jackson Industry began training clients in manufacturing, general cleaning, window washing, stripping and buffing floors, clerical work and lawn care.

Currently employing and training 20 individuals with development delays, the crew cleans 14 work places throughout the Butts County area including the Butts County Administration Building, Georgia Power, and Clerk of Court office, according to Moss.

Moss said individuals on the cleaning crews are required to be ready for pick up at 2:30 a.m., on the days they work. "They are always standing on the porch, ready to be picked up. We never have to wait on anyone," she said.

Jackson Industry works in two shifts, Monday through Friday, and has three separate crews. The mission is to do a thorough job cleaning without being disruptive to the businesses they serve, Moss said.

Participants work 10 hours per week. They are required to be 18 years old and can participate in the program for as long as they wish.

"We not only focus on helping them go to work, we help them to accomplish their hopes and dreams," said Head.

The center offers services and special events tailored for each participant's needs, Head said, by following Individual Service Plans aimed at encouraging personal growth and confidence.

"We recently helped two individuals study for their driver's license. They were successful and now have the ability to drive themselves where they want to go," said Moss.

"I was fortunate enough to experience taking an individual to get her first hair cut," said Sandy Long, one of the case managers and crew supervisors with Jackson Industry. "It was extremely touching."