By Megan Sheets, Brendan McDermott and Yinzi Zeng
FULTON — Sitting in the back of the Kingdom Projects workshop in Fulton, Tom Faucett connects metal rings and chains over and over, working toward his daily goal of 10,000.
Faucett has worked for 31 years at the Callaway County sheltered workshop, a supervised workplace for people with disabilities. He said the job has helped him control his temper, cultivate relationships and cope with attention problems.
“I try to see if I can do it on my own,” he said, “but it’s like a family here. We try to do our best and to help each other.”
Kingdom Projects and 89 other sheltered workshops in the state employ people with disabilities in an effort to improve their quality of life.
Tec Chapman, Executive Director of Services for Independent Living in Columbia, said career as an integral part of a person’s identity.
“If you’re an adult, what’s the first thing that people ask you? ‘What do you do?’” Chapman said. “Those are the main common relationship builders.”
Rates of unemployment among people with disabilities vary across counties in mid-Missouri, but Callaway County stands out. It has a rate of 12.4 percent, compared to 18.2 statewide, according to 2013 data from United States Census Bureau.
Callaway County has adopted the national Employment First movement, which emphasizes employment assistance as the top priority for people with disabilities.admin in Student Work