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Since 1966, Ottawa Friendship House in Ottawa, Illinois, has been improving the quality of life for people with disabilities through informed choice and empowerment. For the last three and a half years, Clover has been proud to partner with this amazing organization to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Clover has partnered with Friendship House in a number of different ways. One of Friendship House’s programs is an on-site sheltered workshop environment that provides occupational training and opportunities to work in assembly and packaging services. Through this workshop, Clover has been able to design a program where participants are employed to construct boxes for various customer recycling programs. Due to the success of this workshop at the Friendship House, in 2014, Clover and Friendship House staff partnered together to create an “Enclave” work environment in Clover’s Midwest Distribution Center.
The Enclave program enables individuals with disabilities to work off campus under the direction of Friendship House staff to gain valuable work experience. The Distribution Center Enclave at Clover includes 17 team members who perform duties such as construct recycling boxes and labels to ship out, collect and separate dividers used during shipments, and sort cartridges to recycle and send back to Clover production facilities. They also assist Clover’s packaging department by filling air inserts, stapling recycle cards, folding instruction sheets and running machines to make inserts for the packaging process.
Clover is continuing to grow its partnership with Friendship House and plans on adding an additional three to four workers this year to assist Clover associates on the packaging lines by assembling boxes and inserting instructions to expedite the packaging process. Clover has also hired one of the team members from Friendship House to work as a full-time associate and is in the process of hiring another to work directly for Clover in the packaging department.
There have been many rewarding results of collaborating with Friendship House but by far the most gratifying has been the relationships that have been forged. For the last two years, the Friendship House staff have attended Clover’s annual Christmas luncheon. This past year, we were also able to to show our appreciation for the team at the Friendship House workshop by hosting a pizza party at their facility.
Two of the individuals who have been key in developing this partnership are Mike Smith, Warehouse Manager, and Brian McCandless, Director of Distribution. When asked to talk about working with Friendship House this is what Mike had to say, “The partnership with Friendship House is truly a joy and a breath of fresh air. Whether in the workshop, or at Clover’s Distribution Center, their staff have great work habits and an excellent outlook on life. I consider myself very lucky for the opportunity to work with such great people and also help our business grow at the same time.”