Program Employs Disabled While Helping Local Businesses

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For more than two decades the Elizabeth Richardson Center has been rehabilitating people with disablities, teaching them a skill and giving them a job.

The non-profit organization, which is located on South Old Missouri Road in Springdale, also houses Richardson Industries. On any given weekday, you`ll find up to 80 adults with disabilities working in the warehouse.

"I wake up with a smile on my face and come through the door and just interact with people more," says ERC client, Joseph Welch.

Welch has been working in electronic assembly at Richardson Industries for around two months and he says it has become a second home.

"The uniqueness about the Elizabeth Richardson Center is we offer a vocational training here where we can transition our consumers from simple jobs to more advanced jobs, and eventually transition them out into the community working for various companies," explains Richardson Industries Sales and Production Manager, John Salina.

Richardson Industries specializes in contract work for local companies such as Walmart.

"We offer electronic assembly, soddering, re-packaging, palletizing, re-labeling," says Salina.

No task is too big or too small.

"We do some really small jobs, for some local printing companies, that might be 80 to 400 pieces. We do some really large volume jobs for some local manufacturing and retail companies, it could be like 18, 15 million a year."

According to Salina, choosing Richardson Industries also saves local businesses time and money.

"This type of labor intensive operation we are able to do it here locally because again we have the manpower to do it or the people power to do it and a company doesn`t have to outsource that overseas."

Salina says the wokers pride themsevles on attention to detail.

"In fact I`ve had companies come here where with traditional labor forces they don`t get the same work quality as they do here."

This is Meghan Spate`s first job and one she has kept since high school.

"My mom was so excited and my sister and my grandma from Camden, Arkansas. My whole family is so proud of me," Spate tells 5NEWS.

The workers earn an hourly wage. As far as what the employees do with their paychecks, many told us they save their money.

For more information visit www.ercinc.org.