The Ohio River may divide them, but a common goal is joining two area organizations together.
Dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, WASCO, Inc. in Marietta and Westbrook Health Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities Services in Parkersburg have been building a collaborative partnership for more than a year.
Representatives and clients from both organizations met Wednesday at WASCO to celebrate the success of their efforts.
“We know there’s a wealth of experience here and we want to combine it and better serve our clients,” said Liz Ford, marketing coordinator with Westbrook Health Services.
Among other things, the organizations have been sharing ideas for their day program, said Sandy Lang, registered support specialist at WASCO.
“It’s nice to share ideas. You run out of things to do,” she said.
Lang and Jessica Webb, day program director at Westbrook’s DDS division, have been exchanging ideas for activities.
“I think it’s nice to see two businesses collaborating instead of competing. In the end it really improves the services for our clients,” said Webb.
Clients at both organizations are heavily involved in arts projects and Wednesday they celebrated their successful collaboration with an exchange of art projects.
Webb, Ford and Westbrook client Brandy Coull presented WASCO with a intricate burlap wreath.
In turn, they were given a colorful, painted and sewn piece of fabric art featuring butterflies.
Similar artwork is sold at WASCO’s Heart to Art Galleria on Front Street.
Recently the store also started selling things made her clients and staff at Westbrook, said Webb.
“We try not to overlap. We make some things that are different from what they offer,” she said.
Sun catchers, wind chimes, jewelry and home decor are some of the items Westbrook clients have contributed to the store.
Westbrook employees have also visited WASCO on a few occasions to study its workforce development programs.
Observing WASCO’s long-standing successful programs has been an invaluable learning experience as Westbrook works to develop its own job coaching and support program, said Ford.
Westbrook recently received a grant for the program, which will help clients obtain community employment and develop their skills.
The partnerships have also offered some opportunities for clients at both organizations to meet new people and gain recognition for their skills, said Ford.
“It’s exciting for our clients,” she said. “I think both our organizations encourage our clients to reach out and make friends.”
Coull made plenty of new friends as she toured WASCO for the first time Wednesday, sharing hugs with many of them and smiles with everyone she saw.
The collaboration resulted in a paid music gig for WASCO client Joe Coggeshall and provided him with a new audience to appreciate his musical talents.
Coggeshall, 66, of Little Hocking has been playing accordion and piano since his youth and recently had the opportunity to play accordion at a Westbrook Thanksgiving celebration.
“They seemed glad to have me and it was good to see Kim again,” said Coggeshall referring to Westbrook staff member Kim Cowman, who used to work at WASCO.
In the future, both organizations would like to co-host events where clients and staff can network and socialize, said Ford.