There are approximately 120,000 veterans in the area of western Massachusetts where our business is located. They are all served by the Veterans Affairs Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare Center in Leeds, Massachusetts.
Three years ago, Ricki heard about a program there to provide some of these veterans with work. Businesses could contract with the center to have some of their light assembly work, etc. done at the health center. It's called the Compensated Work Therapy Workshop. All veterans are eligible and there are many of these programs at VA centers nationwide.
So, we met with one of the Vocational Specialists- Tom Haskell to evaluate our suitability for this program. Tom took some of our kits and other products and did a cost analysis to determine whether the veterans could do the work for us at a competitive price.
|Tom Haskell, Vocational Specialist|
They could and we began to partner with the VA. We started slowly with a few jobs we thought they could do (like packing our kits) and gradually we began to contract with them to do more and more for our business. They have become invaluable to us and we highly recommend this program to any other suitable businesses.
Holiday Trip to the VA
This year we decided to visit the crew at holiday time to thank them in person for the fabulous job they are doing. We took pictures to share a little more with you about how great this program is:
|Kathy and Sarah packing bags of goodies for the trip to the VA|
We wanted it to be a surprise, so the guys were told we were coming for an inspection!
|Ricki (the Cheese Queen herself) led the way.|
|Alison was right behind her.|
When we got to the shop, we all got shy and couldn't decide how to present ourselves. Fortunately, Jim Pruner, vocational specialist, jumped in and announced our presence and our mission to the guys.
|Jim Pruner, vocational specialist|
Then before we knew it, Kathy began dancing down the aisle singing "Jingle Bells!"
|Jeff and Sarah watched in amazement!|
|Kathy rocked! (She is officially our Office Cheermeister and part of her job is to plan fun activities for the staff.)|
|Next, she gave everyone a hug while the rest of us passed out gift bags.|
|April handing a bag to Thomas Dziedzic.|
|Ricki and Victor Rivera|
|Ricki, Victor and Sarah|
|Left to right: Angie, Bill Lauden, John Haverly, Ed O'Brian, Daniel Donovan, Steve Spencer, Hank Alves, Louis Marquez, Sarah, Thomas Dziedzic, Victor Rivera, Kathy, Ricki, Alison, April and Jeff|
Our Intrepid Team
We would like to thank the following veterans for their service to our country, as well as their service to us:
|John Haverly (showing off his hat!)|