Changes coming for MARC Workshop in Martinsville

MARC Workshop provides services for people with intellectual disabilities

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – MARC Workshop's prevocational service currently serves 17 people.

MARC stands for Making Another Right Choice.

The 17 prevocational service participants do simple jobs, such as cutting thread off of plastic rods so the rods can be sent back to the company they came from and recycled.

"It is a sheltered workshop, where folks come in and basically work to the level of their individual abilities and they're paid on a rate based on what their production is," MARC Workshop Day Support Program co-director Melody Justice said.

The Day Support Program provides social interaction through various activities.

Justice said the sheltered workshop will shut down Dec. 21.

"The sheltered workshop receives funding primarily from the Department of Aging and Rehab Services. For about 10-11 years now, they have been trying to phase out sheltered workshops," Justice said.

"The government has basically stated that if you're going to work, you need to receive a competitive wage...a lot of our folks aren't able to work to the level of minimum wage."

Everyone in the sheltered workshop will have to transition to the Day Support Program or go somewhere else.

Brenda Hairston works with people in the Day Support Program and said the transition will be both exciting and hard.

"It's going to be challenging because some of the people are so used to working and they're going to have to change, for the better part, to doing almost nothing compared to what they usually do," Hairston said.

Justice said Piedmont Community Services can help them and their families with the transition.

"If they currently have a case with Piedmont Community Services and are working with either a case manager or a support coordinator," Justice explained, "they need to get in touch with one of those individuals."

She anticipates about a half dozen of the prevocational service participants making the transition, with another five getting jobs.