Your Town Greater Wausau Area: Maximizing human potential at Northern Valley Industries

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 7:37 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - At Northern Valley Industries, maximizing human potential is the name of the game.

The non-profit organization has been around for nearly 80 years. They’re known for providing jobs for people with disabilities.

Carolyn Walker has been with Northern Valley for 20 years. She helps through sub-contracted work for manufacturers.

“I’m very good at counting, getting my own job set up,” Walker told Newschannel 7′s Emily Davies. “I like doing it because I like to be independent as much as I can,” Walker added.

Northern Valley’s original mission was to get their members hired elsewhere. Over time, more and more of them stayed.

“People found this to be their job; this was their co-worker,” said Sherri Waid, Executive Director. “It’s hard to find jobs out in the community for people that are blind, for some of us, or transportation.”

Northern Valley switched their operating model, hiring all of their program members in August. That included those coming back into the workforce, non-English speakers, those recently incarcerated, those dealing with addiction or homelessness.

Their new model is called Employment Social Enterprise, working to reduce barriers to employment while helping enrich lives through the dignity of work.

Members offer things like transportation from Wausau’s last bus stop or housing connections.

“People just need a little hand. They don’t need a whole household, they just need a little bit of help and so that’s what we do,” said Waid.

To learn more about Northern Valley Industries, click here.

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