Community Workshop and Training Center receives $30K grant

By WEEK Producer

July 26, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 9:33 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Randi Walker is hard at work packing parts for Caterpillar at the Community Workshop and Training Center.

She's been employed there for 15 years. She also has a job at Bergners. The work has allowed her to be independent.

"It feels wonderful," said Walker. You get to do your own things. You get to have your own apartment."

Randi is one of about 600 adults with disabilities served by CWTC each year. The agency teaches them how to do things like fill out a job application and conduct an interview with an employer.

Rod Joos has worked as a placement counselor here for 24 years.

"The biggest challenge the last couple of years has probably been the same as everybody, with the economy being the way it is, just generally finding job openings," Joos said.

And yet, CWTC has been able to help about 95 percent of applicants secure work. Last Friday the agency received a $30,000 grant from Caterpillar.

"The grant will help us to supplement funds from the state of Illinois, which also supports this program, and will be used directly for services with our consumers on helping them find and maintain jobs in the community," explained Executive Director Patti Gratton.

The Community Workshop and Training Center also provides employment in its 90,000 square foot production center. There, workers process an average of about a half-million Caterpillar parts each week.

And they're acquiring other skills, too.

"Part of what we work on is jobs for any job in the community," said Gratton. "We work on coming to work on time, we work on attendance, we work on your work skills and then those will translate to jobs in to the community."

Skills that will last a lifetime.