GEORGETOWN — You may not always see them around the community, but there is a group of people earning a living behind the scenes.
The employees of Grow Inc. are proud of their work. Housed at the Brown County Habilitation Center on Hamer Road, Grow Inc. employees construct plaques, carve wooden benches and chairs, work in a greenhouse and mow grass and do gardening work around Brown County.
They also have contracts with the Ohio Department of Transportation in Highland and Brown counties, working janitorial duties and landscaping, and bagging tools with Stanley Tools. They also do car washes, inside and out.
The 30-or-so employees, working with a workshop staff, are able to provide a living for themselves that they may not otherwise have outside of the workshop.
“I like the place, I like the individuals, I like the staff, and it’s a good place to come to work and hang out and get your stress out,” said Eddie. “I like to work and make money, too.”
According to its website, Grow Inc. is a nonprofit adult workshop employing citizens with developmental disabilities.
Its mission statement states the organization’s goal is to “create and maintain a business that provides high quality service and products to customers, while providing comprehensive training, career growth, job placements and other vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities and workers with disadvantages, to improve the quality of their personal life and occupational abilities.”
Syl Flores, of Future Without Poverty, a nonprofit organization focused on helping the involuntary poor and providing them with jobs and economic opportunities, hired Grow Inc. to work on the Ripley community garden and to create plaques for his organization.
“The first time I came in here, I really fell in love with the people,” Flores said. “Whenever I see a spot that we can use some help, I go here, to Grow Inc., and team up with them. These guys really appreciate whatever they get. They take pride in it. It’s really impressive. I’m really proud of them.”
“I would recommend this place to anybody. If anybody’s looking for a job, this is the place to be,” said Bennie, an employee.
All four of the employees interviewed live on their own, either alone or with a sibling or girlfriend. But when they come to work during the week, the employees get to be with a “family” of their own.
“This is my family. I don’t have much family (left), and this is my family,” Bennie said. “These guys are like brothers to me.”
“What I’ve noticed is that no one looks down on each other,” Flores said. “It’s just wonderful.”
Flores, the employees, and Kathy Violette, a staff worker in the workshop, all hope that the employees’ increased visibility working out in the community would help bring more attention to the workshop, either to bring more workers or bring more work to those already there.
“I would like the community to take a look and see if there might by something they need that can be done by one of these guys or the other people here,” Flores said. “I was unaware of this place until I happened to be looking for a place to make plaques. That’s really my hope, that people will take a look.’
“These guys are all about making their future better,” Violette said.
Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell