VIRGINIA — Motorists driving by Range Area Vocational Supports at 1008 Eighth St. S. in Virginia may not know a lot about the business, located where Family Video used to be.
It is one of about 20 similar day training and habilitation firms in the state that help people with disabilities to train for jobs. And, help others learn some life skills.
“We are a state-run business,” explained Mark Carlson, a director for RAVS. Jolene Juhl is the other director.
It is a community-based organization that is paid for its services provided to clients with disabilities, from waiver funds set aside for them.
As of Jan. 1, more area businesses will be participating with RAVS as sites to help assess an individual’s work skills more closely over several days. About seven to ten firms will be taking part.
“The program in Virginia is really starting to take off,” Carlson noted.
RAVS is open to listening to area businesses’ needs, and in finding workers to help meet that. And part of the new emphasis is on training more people for transitioning to work, and not staying in sheltered workshops. “The main focus is finding community employment for people,” he said.
There are about 25 clients the Virginia business works with. Some have developmental disabilities such as autism, while others may have other unique challenges. “No disabilities are alike,” Carlson added.
Clients can be referred to RAVS by social workers, case managers, school districts or parents.
When clients at the state facility in Moose Lake were being moved into communities in the early 1990s, RAVS was one of a number that started up to help train them “to get skills to find community employment,” Carlson said.
Many of the jobs are entry level, such as janitorial, cleaning or laundry work, or for lawn care and snow shoveling. Some jobs are for assembly work as well.
Another goal is to help provide community and life skills to individuals “who aren’t going to be employed,” he added.
RAVS in Virginia can be contacted at 218-741-9368.