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It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Special Tree’s Industrial Operations Center (IOC) opened its doors, but on March 27, staff and clients in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program celebrated their first year anniversary.

Pizza and drinks filled the tables usually reserved for vocational work projects and smiles were on everyone’s faces. After lunch, client awards were handed out along with t-shirts supporting the IOC. It was clear to see from the awards that the clients who participate at the center truly love their work.

“It’s a good environment, you can get a lot of work done and it’s a peaceful place to be,” said client Daniel D. “I’ve worked a lot in the wood shop with sanding and assembly. Today was a total blast.”

The 8,000 square foot center in Wayne is more than a change of environment for clients though – it’s a cornerstone of Special Tree’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.   At the IOC, clients can chose from a variety of supported paid work opportunities depending on their individual needs, goals, strengths, and interests including light industrial assembly projects, antique restoration, and woodworking.  Jobs are broken down into simple steps so every client has the opportunity to work whether it’s one step or an entire job.   On-site job coaches work closely with clients to learn work skills and to increase independence and productivity.

Industrial Operations Coordinator Steven Kozmor oversees most of the IOC’s operations and said he is always impressed with the client’s work ethic and performance.

“I love coming to work, and that is the first time in a long time I can really say that,” he laughed. “Showing the clients new stuff is great. They’re very hard workers and it’s very rewarding.”