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Allan Wartella, director of sales for Algoma Mop Manufacturers, Matt Bair and R.J. Phillips, Algoma Mop employees, demonstrate how they created the mops for the movie "Joy." (Photo: Karen Ebert Yancey/Kewaunee County Star-News)The producers of the 20th Century Fox movie, "Joy," are spreading a different kind of joy among the employees of Algoma Mop Manufacturers this holiday season.

Mops created by the Algoma-based company's employees made their "debut" Friday in the Christmas Day movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

The movie is based upon the story of Joy Mangano, who overcame hardship and became an inventor and home-shopping entrepreneur, building a business dynasty that began with the Miracle Mop in the 1990s.

When the prop master (the person in charge of all props for a movie) couldn't find enough of the original Miracle Mops for the movie, she contacted Algoma Mop Manufacturers, a subsidiary of East Shore Industries, which employs more than 80 adults with disabilities.

Vicki Holschuh

The board of directors of Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin has appointed Vicki Holschuh to serve as the organization’s president and CEO. Holschuh replaces Barbara Leslie who is retiring at the end of the year after serving Goodwill for nearly 45 years, including 22 years as the organization’s top executive.

Holschuh worked for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin for 18 years. She held a variety of executive positions during her tenure, including her final position as senior vice president and chief retail officer.

According to Gary Johnson, chair of Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin’s board of directors, “Vicki is an individual with incredibly strong credentials who has helped the Milwaukee Goodwill organization grow into one of the largest in the nation. While helping to develop its strong retail program, Vicki has also never lost sight of the mission and values of Goodwill.”

H.R. 188Concerned parent, Carol Winter, weighs in on the how H.R. 188 will affect her son.

Read her letter to Wisconsin legislators:

Dear Senator Legislators:

I am writing on behalf of my son, John, a resident of WI, and an enthusiastic participant in the services of Greenco Industries, a sheltered workshop in Monroe. I am writing to ask that you vote NO when H.R.188 comes out of committee and reaches the Senate.

While I applaud your fellow Republican Rep. Gregg Harper’s intentions in sponsoring the Bill, and the intent of the Bill to expand community-based options and to pay a fair wage to the DD population, it is crucial that it does not force a one-size-fits-all solution on issues that are extremely complex, confusing opportunities with mandates which will reduce choices for individuals who already have so little from which to choose.

It is the first option that integrated, competitive employment be the first choice for every individual at Greenco Industries. Before moving back to the Monroe area, John lived in Madison, and his service provider fought diligently for SEVEN YEARS to secure employment in the community to no avail. John spent his days at the mall, in the office, watching movies, finger painting (which he hates) – pretty much doing nothing. The only activity he enjoyed was the volunteer “job” I secured for him…delivering Meals on Wheels to shut ins, for which he was paid…nothing.

Perhaps I am under-informed. Will there be any employer who will pay any worker minimum wage if they can not perform at expected levels. Will you or any of the members of Congress who will be voting in favor of this Bill be willing to hire any of the individuals who will be sitting at home if sheltered workshops are forced to close?

Can we be honest? This Bill is aimed at closing sheltered workshops by attaching Medicaid funding to less restrictive services. Advocates claim it will save money. When there is no safety net, the 400,000 who are left without any type of employment services will require more public assistance, not less.

It has been tried…and FAILED.

Maine. In 2008, a state law went into effect converting sheltered workshop employment into supported employment. According to a report by the Chimes Foundation and George Washington University, 2/3 of those previously employed in sheltered workshops are no longer employed and those who are working are earning less because they are working fewer hours. The numbers of those working in supported employment declined from 2001 to 2014. They are working an average of 12 hours a week instead of 20-40.

Vermont. Six years after sheltered workshops were eliminated there, just 36% of the people formerly employed in them found jobs in the open market. They averaged just 10 hours a week, again instead of 20-40.

How many times are we going to repeat this experiment before the government and advocates (and ideologues) admit that some people will not be able to succeed in integrated employment?

Some disabled choose to limit contact with environments which overwhelm them… some could be vulnerable to victimization. Some in the community simply do not want to associate with those who are mentally, cognitively, or physically disabled. My son is on the spectrum, and even though his appearance is typical, since he was a small child I have seen mothers pull their children away, avoid eye contact, even act as if his autism was contagious

Advocates say this is a generational argument, that we “older moms” are afraid of change. Well, Senator, I have seen and adapted to more changes in my son’s lifetime than you can imagine…some have gone full circle. I haven’t always been a supporter of sheltered workshops. Greenco Industries changed my mind. It fulfills many facets of life requirements necessary for happiness for my son. Work, friendship, exercise, relaxation, stability, a sense of productivity and worth.

In a perfect world, John would be President. Change the world first. Don’t use the disabled as tools to force political correctness. Put politics aside and do what is right for your constituents who have no voice in the political system.

Sincerely,

Carole Winter

Amanda Andreavich Elwyn CenterA generation after the Americans with Disabilities Act, states are facing federal demands to rethink their approach to helping disabled people find work. But could the policy shift worsen their prospects?

When Rita Landgraf ran Delaware’s main disability rights organization in the mid-1980s, there was an effort to get clients into the workplace, but that rarely meant an ordinary workplace. It typically was an out-of-the-way facility where they’d be grouped together performing menial tasks -- putting arms into the plastic torsos of toy soldiers, placing bows on boxes or performing other repetitive work, all at a pay well below the minimum wage. It was an improvement on the sterile residential facilities to which these people had once been confined. But in Landgraf’s view, it was nowhere near enough. She believed that, with some help, even those with severe disabilities could work right alongside the rest of the labor force. She wasn’t the first in the country to focus on placing clients in integrated workplaces instead of what are commonly known as “sheltered workshops,” but she was out in front of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which banned discrimination and promised better access to public and private places.

This year, as the Disabilities Act marks its 25th anniversary, proponents such as Landgraf point to all it has accomplished in the way of access, opportunity and inclusion. But in one respect, the law has mostly failed: It has not led to more jobs. The employment rate for the disabled remains basically unchanged after a quarter-century, and many of the 34 percent of Americans with disabilities who do have jobs are in sheltered workshops earning around $2 an hour.

That’s about to change. The federal agencies that oversee Medicaid and labor laws are demanding that states do more to offer employment opportunities to people with disabilities. The Justice Department is also threatening to sue states to open up the work system. These moves amount to a dramatic shift in disability policy and could spell the end for sheltered workshops that don’t adapt. “From my lens, not much has changed since the ADA with employment,” says Landgraf, now Delaware’s secretary of health and social services. On the other hand, she says, “not only are those federal programs starting to align themselves across the board, but stateside there’s so much interest. I’m starting to feel that for the first time.”

The push for integrated employment isn’t without critics. Some parents of the disabled and the nonprofits that run sheltered workshops and other services fear the shift will neglect people who depend on the workshops as a social outlet and for employment as they try to find suitable outside jobs. But advocates of change, including some parents, insist that integrated employment is essential for people with disabilities to realize their full potential and that the benefits range from reduced reliance on social welfare to increased workplace diversity. Regardless of the controversy, change is coming. And states will be at the center of this next phase in a civil rights movement that has at its end a vision of greater community inclusion. As the situation stands now, they still have a long way to go.


Read the complete story here.

Rep. Glenn GothmanFond du lac, WI - Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisconsin) commends Brooke Industries after his recent visit to their Fond du Lac location.

“Brooke Industries is a great example of providing employment opportunities and training to individuals with significant disabilities,” said Congressman Grothman. “Brooke Industries helps these individuals to lead more productive lives, support their families, gain important work experience, and share in the same pride that each of us has after a day’s work. Many of these individuals work in support of our men and women in uniform, doing their part to improve our country and ensure safety and security for us all.”

AbilityOne affiliated non-profit agencies, like Brooke Industries, offers people who are blind or who have significant disabilities the opportunity to acquire the job skills and training necessary to receive good wages and benefits and ultimately improve their quality of life.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is serving his first term representing Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Contact his Washington, D.C., office at (202) 225-2476, or online at grothman.house.gov.

Read the original Press Release here.