Mission & History
Mission & Purpose
AtWork!’s mission is to empower people with disabilities be productive, integrated and contributing members of their communities. Our purpose is to empower people with disabilities to have full and meaningful lives through employment and community involvement.
- People with disabilities are an integral part of our society, our businesses, and our lives.
- Everyone has the capacity to work. There is a place for a person with disabilities in every business in America. Everyone is employed and all workforces are inclusive.
- AtWork! is a national leader in delivering innovative employment services. We are the best place to get services as defined by the people we serve and their families.
- AtWork!’s social enterprises generate a reliable revenue stream to support our mission.
- The people with disabilities we train are recruited by businesses seeking skilled and competent employees.
- AtWork! is a key collaborator and partner in the public policy arena, successfully advocating and supporting system change and improvements that empower people with disabilities to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
In 1998 AtWork! was created as a result of the merger of Custom Industries (CI) and Community Enterprises of Issaquah (CEI). CI, established in 1962 was Bellevue based and operated two sheltered workshop programs in Bellevue and Kenmore. It was the older and largest of the two programs. Additionally CI operated janitorial and landscaping crews operating out of a small facility in Shoreline. CEI was a smaller organization primarily known in Issaquah, established in 1965. It operated a recycling center that was enthusiastically supported by the local community and a sheltered workshop employing primarily individuals who had graduated from the Issaquah School District.
Thirty years ago when people with disabilities were released from institutions AtWork! was there to provide training. People wove pot holders and other cottage industry work for pennies. It was state-of-the-art. AtWork! was a leader. Soon those workers were saying, “Help us get good jobs, real work, doing important things just like others do at work.”
The Supported Employment movement emerged in the early 90’s and again AtWork! was a leader, launching new enterprises (janitorial, landscaping, assembly, recycling) that to this day provide jobs, training in marketable skills, and wages. Businesses saw new value in diversity. Astute companies hired the first people with disabilities and enjoyed enhanced profits and demonstrated community leadership.
Today AtWork! is a highly supportive and innovative conduit between people with disabilities and mainstream employers that designs customized jobs and provides ongoing support to create mutually beneficial work relationships.