One of the best-kept secrets in Cherokee is Cherokee County Work Services. This facility is located at 322 S. Lake St., in south Cherokee, just west of U.S. Highway 59.
CCWS started here in 1968, and was known for many years as the Cherokee Work Activity Center. Don Agostine was the director of the facility for many years, and since Don's retirement a few years ago, Calvin Carver and Jan Cosgrove have served as the co-directors.
The number one goal of Cherokee County Work Services is "to provide quality services to those with disabilities, allowing them the opportunity to be active citizens in our community."
For more than 40 years now, the facility has been employing people with disabilities through the various services they provide to area businesses. Some of these services include laundry services; document shredding; pallet building/repair; metal salvage; packaging; small assembly; mailings/collating; badges (by order); hand-woven rugs; business cleaning crews; and candy/vending.
CCWS can provide training to help one of their individuals with disabilities learn to work for other employers, and they also have an Adult Day Program, which provides meaningful activities for the elderly and disabled, and also provides respite services.
CCWS is currently expanding their building with a 24' x 50' addition to the front, with the work being done by Haselhoff Construction of Cherokee. This additional room will allow more room for services and ADA-approved wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and in general, allow a more efficient operation of the facility, according to Carver and Cosgrove. Part of the addition will be used for the Adult Day Program and the rest for staff offices.
Carver said that, on average, CCWS serves 30-35 clients with disabilities each day, serving a total of 62 clients last year.
One of Cherokee County Work Services' benefactors for the last 18 years has been the Cherokee Knights of Columbus. The Knights have run their "Project Outreach" for 18 years, starting each Sept. 1 and running through the month of September.
The Knights donate their time for this project, calling on over 100 business places to raise money to help the disabled. An estimated 90 per cent of the funds they raise come back directly to Cherokee County Work Services and the other 10 per cent goes to the Special Olympics.
The Knights' Project Director, LeRoy Rupp, said 2009 was the most successful year yet for Project Outreach, as they were able to raise $16,200. Over the past few years, Project Outreach funds for CCWS have been used to purchase two new paper shredders for their shredding business, a safer walking environment, and two new automatic doors to make leaving and entering the CCWS building more accessible to all.
In the past, CCWS has also used Project Outreach funds to purchase a new commercial dryer for their laundry business, complete their parking lot, and work on making the restrooms wheelchair-accessible, which led to the current building expansion project.
The Knights of Columbus and Cherokee County Work Services have worked together to help serve area people with disabilities for many years, and they ask everyone to please consider helping them with ongoing support of Project Outreach.