For 50 years, the Vocational Training Center has specialized in providing exceptional vocational services, support and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The organization is constantly working to enrich lives by providing high quality vocational services for individuals with barriers to employment.
The doors of the Vocational Training Center opened in October of 1962. At that time, the staff of six was helping 21 people and was one of only 500 programs in the United States. Today, the center has more than 30 employees and serves over 90 individuals each year.
No matter how much they grow, Paulette Wood, administrator of programs and services for the Vocational Training Center, says their focus remains the same. “We’ve always been vocationally focused,” she said. “We want every individual to be the very best employee they can possibly be.”
The center’s largest program is day supports, which provides consumer based, outcome driven services. At any time, up to 65 individuals are served through the day supports program.
The second largest program offered is supported employment and extended services. This program provides employment and ongoing support for persons with severe disabilities and provides long term support in order for an individual to maintain employment.
Other services include vocational development and outsourcing and subcontracting. Wood notes that the subcontracting and outsourcing, which includes services like packaging, preparing mailings, shredding and assembling, is a valuable resource to the community.
“Our outsourcing and subcontracting program is a critical component for local businesses,” she said.
The Vocational Training Center also works with high school students who are transitioning out of school and into full time employment. No matter who the individual is, Wood explains that it’s all about meeting the needs of that person.
“We strive to meet the person’s dreams and goals and support the whole person,” she said.
And for the center, it’s not just about meeting the needs of the people they help. It’s also about getting involved in the community. According to Carolyn Shook, Qualified Developmental Disability Professional, the Vocational Training Center is volunteering all over the community. The center fills United Way of Cass-Clay backpacks, participates in the Day of Caring, rings bells for the Salvation Army, supports the local AKTion clubs, volunteers at the ARC, collects money for the Great Plains Food Bank and much more.
“We started a 52 by 52 service to others project where every week we do something for someone in need,” said Carolyn. “We want to get as involved as we can in the community.”
Vocational Training Center Timeline
1962 Incorporate as FM Vocational Training Center
1970 Joined forces with Fargo Public Schools
1971 Started construction on current building
1981 Final phase of current building completed
1985 Received first council accreditation from the Council on Quality & Leadership
2011 Most recent accreditation under new standards for “Person Centered Excellence”
2012 50 Year Anniversary – Open house on June 6 at 11:30 a.m.