Life Bridges’ Opportunity Center
by By Larry Bingham
Jan 27, 2013 | 847 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Life Bridges

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The Vocational Services initiative at Life Bridges is one of the most important components of this Cleveland agency that serves people with intellectual and physical challenges.

The Opportunity Center, a 10,000-square-foot building on the campus, is the hub of the work program. It is here service recipients are taught work skills that not only benefit them, but all of Bradley County.

Every capable service recipient works either at the Opportunity Center or is employed by a local business. Currently, 65 men and women, approximately 35 percent of all service recipients at the agency work every day.

Fun Treats which manufactures popsicles and other seasonal treats employs 20 men and women from the agency each day during the spring and summer seasons.

Cracker Barrel, Lee University, Top Tech Automotive, Wendy’s, Cleveland State, Taco Bell, SkyRidge, Bargain Barn, Ocoee Investments, McDonald’s and Jenkins Deli depend on the hard work of service recipients from Life Bridges. Their work helps contribute to their success.

Those who work each day inside the Opportunity Center complete tasks for Rubbermaid, Peyton’s, Lubing of Cleveland, and Cleveland Tubing.

The Opportunity Center at Life Bridges is probably the most eye-opening experience for first-time visitors at the agency.

“I simply didn’t know about all the work you do here” is a statement heard most often by Gary Ownbey, who became program coordinator for Vocational Services at Life Bridges in 2010.

Life Bridges work program is consistently lauded by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities. CARF certification is the gold standard of approval awarded to agency programs that excel.

Seeking business for Life Bridges is no different than any other company.

When an employer needs outsourcing that would be a good match for the skill levels of the clients, the supervisors at Opportunity initiate the process for making a presentation by first performing a time study.

A time study is a procedure encompassing staging the job(s) to be completed. Each of the supervisors and service recipients do the work as outlined by the client.

Time expended and all materials purchased to achieve the end result are the criteria used to bid the contract. Then the agency makes a formal presentation to the perspective employer and offers a competitive price.

The state of Tennessee vigilantly monitors the work component at Life Bridges. Daily documentation on each worker must be kept by each area supervisor. State regulators consistently audit the agency contracts and payments received, and make certain they are in compliance with all laws governing work performed.

Luke Queen, CEO of Life Bridges, contends, “It is a terrific partnership between us and local businesses. All our workers are paid for the work they do. They pay income taxes and FICA just like all of us. With their earnings they buy clothes, electronics, go bowling, go out to eat … whatever they choose to do. They give back to the community that is supportive of them. “