For 44 years, the Work Activity Center Inc. (WACOK.com) has been providing developmentally disabled individuals with employment and, along with that, a paycheck, a chance to socialize with other young men and women with similar physical and mental limitations, and a chance to learn new job skills.
Along the way, says Chris Phillips, president of the Work Activity Center board, clients also pick up a healthy dose of self-confidence. Here, Phillips—a pharmacist and owner of Chris’ Express Drug—talks about the work center and how our readers can help them meet their short- and long-range goals.
Could you provide a brief history of your organization?
The Work Activity Center Inc. in Moore, was incorporated on Aug. 11, 1976, by the Office of the Secretary of State, State of Oklahoma. The original people involved in the incorporation were Mrs. Doral Hopper, special education director, Moore Public Schools; entrepreneurs Roy and Jo Thein; attorney Ron Stakem and his wife, Helen; Joseph Moore, assistant professor of special education at the University of Oklahoma; parents of young adults with developmental disabilities; and other educators.
What is your organization’s mission?
The mission of the Work Activity Center Inc. is to provide the developmentally disabled with employment, earn a paycheck, experience a safe work environment, socialize with other young men and women with similar physical and mental limitations, and teach them job skills as well as social skills. We strive to help them achieve self-confidence by providing a variety of work contract experience.
The work center currently serves developmentally disabled individuals in Norman, Moore, Oklahoma City, Blanchard and Choctaw.
How has your organization grown?
The work center has been available to individuals with disabilities for 44 years. We have been blessed to be operational through recessions, lack of contracts and a pandemic. It is our goal to continue operating only one facility in order to spend more time training our current employees with disabilities.
What are your short- and-and long-term goals?
Our short -term goal is to continue providing contracts for the developmentally disabled. Our long-term goal is to keep the public informed of our plan to be a work center available to the current generation and future generations.
What do the clients say about their experiences at the work center?
Here are a few examples. Allie says, “I like it that I alone get to label the salad containers; it makes me feel special.” Kelly says, “I like making new friends and working on the tile and Pike Pass contract.” Mercades says, “I like the contracts, and the money!” Many of them also say that it’s, simply put, “fun.”
How can our readers help?
Volunteers are welcome. They’re a “boost of encouragement” to staff and clients. Monetary donations are accepted and always appreciated. Supplies/goods needed include tissue, paper towels, large garbage bags and hand soap.
What else would you like people to know about the organization?
The individuals who organized the work center had a sincere desire to give the developmentally disabled adults graduating from high school an opportunity for employment so they would not regress mentally for lack of something to do. Parents in the community of Moore and Norman expressed their concerns to community leaders (some were parents of a special needs child), hired an attorney and the “dream” became a reality. It is my prayer that every parent whose special needs child has the privilege of employment at a work center never forget those who made it possible for their child and future generations of developmentally disabled adults.