Happiness at the Workshop

Jul. 09, 2014 @ 02:35 PM

At The Workshop of Davidson, Inc., Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” song isn’t playing but it might as well be. There’s not a frown in the whole place.

The current Workshop location at 275 Monroe Road in Lexington now totals nearly 20,000 square feet. There, more than 20 companies from the surrounding area contract labor through the workshop for jobs including small parts assembly, sorting, gluing, folding, packaging, labeling and more. About 65 Davidson County residents, including residents from Thomasville, work and take part in the Workshop’s programs five days a week.

Linda McLean and Roger Wiley of Thomasville take pride in their work in the small parts assembly area.

“For many, the Workshop provides more than a job or a means to earn a wage,” said Executive Director Mike Foster. “It represents an opportunity to gain self-sufficiency, personal growth and a sense of self-worth that many consumers would be unable to obtain without the organization.”

The Workshop isn’t all about work — there’s some play.

In a nearby classroom, clients participate in an art class.

After three days of work, Mary Craven has just completed painting a wooden chair. Craven knows that the chair has a special purpose and she won’t be taking it home with her.

“I like to paint,” she said. “It feels good. I’m proud of it.”

Participants also benefit from compensatory education classes through a partnership with Davidson County Community College.

“There's a little bit of everything that they can gain from being in the program

to experience things that they would not otherwise on their own,” Foster said. “The convenient side of it is that it's all under one facility.”

Since 1964, the Workshop of Davidson has served more than 4,000 developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals in Davidson County by giving them a safe place to train, work and grow in their vocational and personal lives.

“It's about the only option for a day program in Davidson county,” Foster continued. “A lot of people are heavily dependent on us for respite. It allows families and parents to be able to hold down a job.”

Workshop organizers want to offer other people the chance to get happy through the kickoff of a new project they call “Take a Seat!” Individuals, families, churches and businesses are invited to pick up a wooden school-style chair to paint and/or decorate for a November auction. The theme for this project is “Happy!” Funds generated will go to support the life-changing programs of The Workshop of Davidson.

Chairs can be picked up at The Workshop of Davidson, 275 Monroe Road, Lexington.