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02-12-04: New name covers lots of service jobs

CA Group employs disabled in area


CA Group, known by many locally as Cheryl Ann programs, continues to evolve and create new job opportunities for people coping with mental or physical disabilities.
Formerly known as CA Industries, the non-profit arm of the Mercer County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the unit sought a name change more than a year ago to more accurately reflect its changing role in the community.
“It was a philosophical thing,” said Dave Cavanaugh, CA Group’s business development manager. “It more clearly expresses who we are.”
The old name, CA Industries, still is held by the sheltered workshop, where adult clients do a number of light assembly and other contracted jobs under the close supervision of others. That used to be the only way the program put disabled adults to work. But today, the CA Group umbrella also includes CA Bicycle Sales & Service and CA Lawn Service and a newly launched light assembly site housed in the rear of the bike shop.
The new assembly operation represents new jobs for people who were not working. They are not people who were moved out of the workshop, CA Group Manager Tim Wilson said.
The move away from the sheltered environment of the workshop is a sign of the times, Wilson said. Most adult clients want “real world” jobs away from the sheltered atmosphere of the workshop, he said. In fact, only one new worker has joined the staff of the CA workshop in the past five years, he said.
Cavanaugh ventured that there may be a time in the future when the flagship of the program’s jobs services is no longer needed.
“We’re in a transition phase from the segregated environment into what is becoming the new model for employment,” Cavanaugh said. “Younger people don’t like the sheltered workshop.”
A long-term goal of CA Group is to be recognized by the business and industrial community as a viable service and manufacturing company, Wilson said.
Associates at the workshop do work such as light assembly, inspection, packaging, labeling, mailing and other labor-intensive work that area companies contract to CA rather than do it in-house.
The bike shop was relocated from Coldwater to Celina last year and offers bicycle maintenance and an array of bikes, skateboards, equipment and other gear for sale. The store also has a new manager, Joyce Weitz, who started work there last week.
Weitz is considered extremely knowledgeable about bicycling, Wilson said, noting that she is the former owner of Weitz Bicycle Shop in Wapakoneta.
The lawn service business was launched about two years ago. The business provides its clients with full-service lawn care, including mowing, trimming, edging, leaf and debris removal and chemical applications.


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