Workshops, Inc. enriches lives by providing vocational training, employment opportunities and support services to people with disabilities in Central Alabama.
In 1900, a group of Birmingham citizens established the Workshops program for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, and especially people with vision impairments. Workshops initially provided clients with the opportunity to create products for sale. During the Great Depression, Workshops made mops and brooms, and sewing rooms were established for women to sew pajamas and sheets for hospitals and tuberculosis sanitariums. In each of the World Wars, Workshops flourished with government contracts, and from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, Workshops established wood-working, upholstery and general craft work capabilities. At one point, Workshops even had a band – the Alley Cats – made up of people with various disabilities. The Alley Cats even played for President Nixon! More recently, Workshops has focused on training consumers in program areas that provide business solutions for the larger community – including assembly, mailing, fulfillment and handwork solutions for the printing industry – as well as in our cafeteria and janitorial training programs. Just as our business services have changed over the years, so has our clientele. While we only serve people with documented disabilities, low vision is no longer the prevailing disability among consumers. Today the vast majority of our consumers have developmental disabilities or mental illness. Many of our consumers have dual diagnoses – meaning drug or alcohol abuse in addition to mental illness or other disabilities.
Who do you serve?
People with disabilities who are seeking guidance, training and assistance finding employment.
Every time one of our consumers (clients) gets a job and their life is changed, we are extremely proud.
Funding to be able to help more people with disabilities. The state sponsors most of our consumers, but we could help more if we had more funding.
Plans for the future
We are starting a healthy living program that will help our consumers learn about how to take better care of themselves. Many of our consumers live in group homes and do not have a great deal of control over their diet. This creates secondary health conditions such as type II diabetes, gout, high blood pressure and other types of secondary illnesses. We hope this program will help them to gain the skills they need to be healthier for themselves and to help them in their search for employment.