Mission & History
Mission & Purpose
AtWork!’s mission is to help people with disabilities be productive, integrated and contributing members of their communities. Our purpose is to help people with disabilities learn marketable skills, find and keep good jobs in the community, and earn wages and benefits that help them escape poverty.
- The people we serve have the same rights to employment and equal opportunity as all citizens.
- Choice and the needs of the person serves are they keystones of person-centered planning.
- Community employments is an option for all regardless of support needs or skill level.
- Confidentiality is a guarantee.
- AtWork! values and seeks input from persons served and other stakeholders.
- High quality and consistent customer services, fairness and integrity are key to our reputation and success.
- Persons with disabilities are always treated with respect and dignity.
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.