On Wednesday, April 3 Kent-Sussex Industries, Inc. (KSI) celebrated 51 years of providing employment to individuals with disabilities with their annual open house event. Members of the Milford community and surrounding area had the opportunity to tour the facility located on Rehoboth Boulevard. With over 270 visitors in attendance on Wednesday, KSI proudly showed off their employees as they continued to work through another productive day.
KSI is a not for profit vocational rehabilitation organization which serves the residents of Kent and Sussex Counties with a focus on creating employment opportunities to those with disabilities. This organization has spent the past 51 years serving the needs of disabled individuals but also those of the business community. For each individual, KSI provides encouragement and confidence through vocational rehabilitation, job development, and training. For the business community KSI has provided contract labor services since 1977. They currently have several work crews under contract, working with familiar businesses such as Arrow Safety, Coastal Brewery, Decal Girl, Dentsply Caulk, Milford Lions Club, Mohawk Electric and Perdue.
“Our open house gives our workers the opportunity to show people what they do every day,” commented Director of Community Relations Alicia Hollis. “For them I think it justifies coming to work and allows their families and friends to see their progress.”
Local companies, such as Fastenal in Milford, have worked alongside KSI since the early 2000’s. A supplier of fasteners, hardware, tools and safety equipment, Fastenal has depended on these workers to complete over 100 different configurations of assembled pieces including nuts and bolts. Last year alone KSI workers made 2,185,832 pieces for the local company, creating 150,00 to 300,000 pieces per month.
The Milford Lions Club also receives help from KSI as workers assemble the finished product of the annual Lions Club phone book that Milford residents recently received on their doorstep. Workers place the donation sticker on the front of the book, insert the donation letter inside the book and place the book inside a protective plastic sleeve. The total order this year was 16,000 phone books, which last year provided over 464 hours of paid work.
“KSI is about more than just employment,” commented Ms. Hollis. “So much more happens to enrich the lives of each individual.”
With approximately 300 individuals being employed by, or with the help of, KSI there is a myriad of employment opportunities based on the needs of each business and the ability of each person. KSI offers three employment programs. The first is on-site employment that is heavily supervised to ensure the education and safety of each individual. Activities provide for group and individual instruction in areas such as direction following, attention to task, sequencing, social interaction, and job readiness skills. The second program, community-based work service programs, offers a chance for employees to work in small groups in the community under KSI supervision. The third program, which offers the most independence, is the supported employment program where individuals become employees of the location where they work. KSI will supervise the progress of each employee to help get them acclimated with the job and also ensure longevity as time passes.
“The best thing about being a part of this place is seeing the pride and satisfaction in what each individual feels,” commented Director of Community Relations Alicia Hollis. “We advocate for the person, helping them to meet their goals and objectives which carries over and allows those individuals to realize they can advocate for themselves.”