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Nonprofit Partners With Industry to Employ Adults With Disabilities

During a recent visit to Partnerships With Industry, known as PWI, in Santee, I was among a group of companies, community leaders, state agency officials and interested parents to learn more about this remarkable organization. Founded in 1985, PWI provides job preparation, job placement and ongoing workplace support for adults among a wide spectrum of disabilities. The office in Santee is one of four, and the organization has helped more than 11,000 individuals find meaningful work and become productive members of society. Mark Berger, the president and CEO, spoke with pride about what they have been able to accomplish and what the goals are for the future.

The organization provides an entire range of services from in-house training and work to placement within organizations and businesses around the county. Most remarkable, however, is that PWI is actually running businesses from its locations. Berger refers to these operations as “nearsourced — it doesn’t go to China, it doesn’t go to Mexico, it stays right here in the community at all four of our locations.”

Chief among those is a professional paper shredding operation with 24/7 security and privacy protection measures in place. Huge bound bales of shredded paper, sorted into stacks of white paper and colored paper await freight trucks that take it to a hydro pulp operation. In another room, Mike Jackson, co-owner of Classic Lamp Parts, oversees the final set up of one of PWIs first pick-and-pack operations. It was clearly working well as warehouse shelves to the ceiling were packed with various lamp parts ready to be shipped all over the world.

Berger said PWI places workers in a variety of setting, such as municipalities for street and beach maintenance, casinos, local universities and schools, and many hotels. Additionally, it works with a company that does electronic waste recycling, which breaks down computers and printers into their component parts. PWI employees are incredibly reliable, staying on the job an average of more than five years.

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And finally, the organization is expanding its efforts to work with people with autism. Those efforts resulted in PWI being the inaugural winner of the AFAA Applauds award, named for the organization that grants it, Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism. The group is a national initiative recognizing innovative, high-quality support programs for adults living with autism spectrum disorders. For information, visit pwiworks.org.

On another important topic, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs states that 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide each day. That’s more than 8,000 military heroes lost each year.

Alliant Couple and Family Clinic, a local nonprofit, provides low-fee, confidential therapy for military families to fight these statistics. Specializing in emotionally focused therapy, or EFT, the clinic serves more than 125 San Diego families each month with 70 percent of those being military families. EFT is renowned as a breakthrough in psychotherapy as it is one of the only forms of therapy with scientific evidence proving its effectiveness for distressed couples.

The clinic offers sessions at less than one-third the cost of traditional therapy, with sessions costing as little as $11. In an effort to raise money for its military family therapy sessions, the clinic presents a musical event, Unbroken: Cabaret for a Cause, May 3 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. For information, visit alliantcoupleandfamilyclinicsandiego.org.

Please email kudos/giving items to sglidden@sdbj.com.

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