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Comprehensive Services eases transition into workforce

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ruth Williams, 53, works in the workshop at Putnam County Comprehensive Services. Several different companies contract with PCCS to provide light-duty jobs for clients. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
GREENCASTLE -- Ruth Williams is 53 years old -- and became a member of the workforce only two years ago.

Williams, who is mildly developmentally disabled, does light-duty factory work through the Supported Employment Program at Putnam County Comprehensive Services. Several different companies contract with PCCS to provide work for clients.

Williams has three children and four grandchildren. She lives in Greencastle with her 31-year-old twin sons, Joe and Michael. Her daughter Melissa, 27, lives in Illinois.

"Joe works at Lonestar and Michael is a mechanic," Williams said proudly. "My daughter works at Whitecastle ... that's my favorite restaurant."

Williams was married, but has been divorced since her sons were babies. She went to school in Greencastle and lived with her mother for many years.

"I'm very close to all my kids," Williams said.

Her mother passed away in January 2008, leaving Williams the home they had shared.

Jim Craver, 42, gets help balancing his checkbook from Putnam County Comprehensive Services Supported Employment coordinator Laura Gordon. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
She doesn't drive, so she depends on her son and the PCCS van to transport her to and from her job. She works Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"I love it here," Williams said. "They help me a lot."

Williams is especially grateful for the help PCCS provides her with budgeting her money each month.

"All my money would be gone if it weren't for them," she said. "I'd spend it. I love going shopping ... especially at Wal-Mart and the dollar stores."

In her spare time, Williams enjoys making no-sew blankets.

"I make them all the time," she said with a smile. "I give them away as gifts."

Jim Craver, 42, has always held down a job.

He worked for several years at a restaurant job, and was working through PCCS at FB Distro in Greencastle until just recently.

Craver injured his back while competing in the standing long jump in the Special Olympics in May 2009. He continued to work until he was simply no longer able.

"I'd been (at FB Distro) for a year when I had to leave," he said.

At his job at FB Distro, Craver worked in the kitchen.

"I did dishes, kept things wiped down and helped feed the employees," he said.

Craver's main mode of transportation is his bicycle. His back injury makes it impossible for him to go everywhere he'd like to, but he still rides occasionally for exercise and to get out.

Craver has been meeting with a surgeon to determine a plan of action.

"I'm going to have to have bone grafts," Craver said. "But the doctor wants me to quit smoking first."

Craver lives in an apartment in Greencastle. PCCS staff members help him out with keeping his house in order and with making sure his bills are paid and his checkbook is balanced.

"There's one person who comes and takes me to the store, the doctor or whatever, and there's another who comes and takes me to pay my bills," Craver said.

Craver doesn't mind living on his own.

"It gets lonely sometimes, but I do like that I can come home and do what I want," he said.

Craver used to enjoy bowling, fishing and other sporting events, but his back injury has forced him to give up a lot of those activities.

"Now I mostly just like talking with my friends and family," he said.

Craver's mother lives in Greencastle in a nursing facility.

"I try to get out and see her, but I don't get to as often as I should," he said.

Laura Gordon, Supported Employment coordinator, said clients in the program are usually very eager to get to work.

"If we can find them the right job, they'll stay and they'll work hard," she said.

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Truly amazing , i know a few clients, and their jobs mean so much, people dont realize how much the little things mean

-- Posted by undercoverbrother on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 7:10 AM

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