GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — West Michigan nonprofit group Beyond26 is fast expanding its efforts of connecting those living with special needs to long-term employment opportunities.
The goal of the 501(c)(3) group is to help individuals aging out of the state school system find meaningful work in their communities. The name Beyond26 refers to the age at which people age out of the system in Michigan— 26.
Beyond the age of 26, for some people living with special needs, is an uncertainty.
“We brought on four new people in the past couple of weeks, and we're looking to bring on two or three more hopefully," said Emily Voorhees, director of development for Beyond26.
“A lot of things happened really quickly kind of, without prompting. The community just kind of showed up.”
Beyond26 currently has a group of about 15 employees working in their Grand Rapids office shredding documents.
“Document shredding is kind of like a vocational training for people who haven't had any experience working,” Voorhees said.
Anyone over the age of 18, and living with a disability, are eligible to work with Beyond26. They will look for positions that work with an applicant's skills and personality.
If someone needs some time preparing for the workforce, they are able to work in Beyond26's document shredding office.
They have in recent months acquired a new van to make paper pick-ups, and have had several shredding machines donated for them to use.
To continue growing, they need more paper.
“Our preferred, ideal customer is a small business that has... maybe five to ten boxes of paper that they want shredded every month," Voorhees said.
They have a suggested donation of $10 per box but are willing to work with businesses.