Job opportunities seem few and far between with the economic downturn in full swing, and for those with a disability, finding a job can be even more difficult, even in the best of economies. In Lansing, Michigan, however, Peckham, Inc. has created a place where people with disabilities can find jobs and thrive.
Peckham, Inc. is a "private nonprofit community rehabilitation center," says President and CEO Mitch Tomlinson. "Our main mission is to provide rehabilitation services to people with disabilities in the tri-county area. We do that by creating jobs for folks with disabilities."
The people they work with on a daily basis "come from all walks of like and they represent all types of disability," says Tomlinson. "We have people with developmental disabilities, we have people with mental illness, we have people with hearing and vision issues, you name it, we work with those folks."
In order to provide a wide range of opportunities for people with all kinds of disability, they have a variety of different jobs -- a total of five businesses in which clients can work.
As their biggest business, they "Manufacture clothing primarily for the defense department," explains Tomlinson. "So we design and manufacture extreme cold weather and really cool stuff and create jobs for folks with disabilities."
The other businesses include warehousing service, a cleaning company, and a call center, all staffed by people with disabilities.
Their newest business, started two years ago, is Peckham Farms, a farm complete with greenhouse, hoop houses and enough land to grow tomatoes, pumpkin, and a variety of vegetables. They even have bee hives that provide the farm with honey.
Working on the farm certainly teaches people how to farm but it also gives them a sense of self-confidence. Don Majkol, a Peckham Farms employee who works with the bees says, "Even though I've got some problems, I can still get some stuff done and it just might take a little bit longer than normal, but I get stuff done and I'm helping keep the food supply going."