Our Story

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The following history documents the early movements that led to the provision of vocational services for people with disabilities, including the formation and maturation of Development Workshop.  Much of the language considered to be offensive by present standards has been left unedited to highlight the evolution of attitudes toward, and acceptance of, people with disabilities. – June, 2011

1949

August 1 – Mae Tomblison and her husband, Tom, traveled to University of Mississippi for a convention on “Education of the Exceptional Child”.

1950

March 6 – “Sage Creek School for Retarded Children” was started by Mae Tomblison with six students in an abandoned one-room country school house.

1956

October – Mae Tomblison was recognized at ISU for her personal work with the handicapped and given an award as Idaho’s first teacher in Special Education.

1960

Beth Sargent, along with LaRue Swenson, formed the “Bonneville Association for Retarded Children”.

1966

November – Bonneville County Chapter of the “American Association for Retarded Children” was formed with John Griffith as president.

1967

June – A newly created board of Eastern Idaho Health & Social Services, Inc. approved a capital campaign to raise $75 thousand in local funds to match some $190 thousand in federal and state funds for a new child development and mental health center.

Officers of the new organization: Judge Boyd R. Thomas, President; George Griffing, Vice President; John Griffith, Second Vice President; Mrs. Jeanne Brunson, Secretary; and Milt Madsen, Treasurer.

1968

March – The State Department of Health gave the green light to proceed with preliminary construction plans of the $267,000 Eastern Idaho Child Development Center, which was sponsored by the Eastern Idaho Health and Social Services, Inc.

John Griffith, chairman of fund raising, reported that $42,052 had been raised to date.

1968

June 27 – Government consultants encouraged early action on a vocational development center as a supplement to the Child Development Center proposed for Idaho Falls to meet the burgeoning needs of more than 2,000 mentally, emotionally and physically handicapped persons in Eastern Idaho.

August 1 – Construction of a combined Eastern Idaho Child Development Center and Vocational Rehabilitation Center at West 25th Street and Leslie Avenue was expected to get underway in the fall.

November 20 – Governor Don Samuelson was in Idaho Falls to break ground for the first phase of the Child Development Center.

1969

February – The Eastern Idaho Health and Social Services, Inc. and the advisory board of the Eastern Idaho Child Development Center met to organize a non-profit group to apply for a federal operation grant to initiate a mental health program in the region.  John Griffith was president of the board.

July 6 – The new Eastern Idaho Child Development Center was virtually completed at West 25th and Leslie Avenue.  This was one of four units planned statewide for a mental health and rehabilitation complex.  A vocational and rehabilitation center was planned for the next year.

1970

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation granted monies to the Department of Health and Welfare for the construction of a vocational training facility for handicapped individuals.  The facility was under the direction of the advisory board of the Child Development Center.  This was a new era for Idaho’s handicapped citizens.

1971

April 8 – The Child Development Center Vocational complex was dedicated.  In order to provide a relevant program for those handicapped individuals who had completed their academic program at the Child Development Center it was felt that a vocational program was needed.

July 1 – H. Dwight Whittaker was hired by Robert Decker, the Child Development Center director, as the supervisor of the vocational training program.

December 7 – The Work Evaluation and Training Program (as it was called under the State) opened its doors to clients.  On the first day, there were twelve clients working under the supervision of three staff members.

1972

Beth Sargent, who was instrumental in helping organize the Child Development Center, was elected as the first chair of the Board of the Work Evaluation and Training Program “Development Workshop, Inc.” under the auspices of the Department of Health & Welfare.

(THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IN THESE HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP, INC. HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM THE ANNUAL REPORTS FROM 1973 TO 2011

1973 – 74

In August 1973, the advisory board of the Child Development Center, Inc. was incorporated, becoming Development Workshop, Inc. and assumed management of the facility.  The State wholeheartedly endorsed the transition of the workshop from a state-operated facility to a private, non-profit corporation.

H. Dwight Whittaker, who was, at that time, the Child Development Center Director, was appointed Executive Director of Development Workshop, Inc.

The members of the Board of Directors: Jerry Jacobson, President; John Griffith, Vice-President; Barbara Hendrickson, Secretary additional Board members included Robert Paul, Richard Helmer, Vern Bitter, Wayne Hammond, Grant Wilson, Ida Holden, Beth Sargent, Marvel Bradley, Dennis Olsen, W. W. “Bill” Turnbull, Elaine Kearnes and Mae Tomblison.

At the close of the first year in 1974 under Development Workshop, Inc., a total of 48 clients were being served by twelve staff members.  The program had also received National Accreditation by the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

1975

As Development Workshop, Inc. completed its second year as an independent non-profit organization, the management, staff and board of directors looked back with a great deal of pride on what had been accomplished. Doing so, they realized the awesome responsibility and overwhelming tasks that lie ahead.

A client break area and warehouse facility was constructed at a cost of $107,490.  A pilot program with School District 93 was implemented to provide vocational training for high school-aged, educable, mentally retarded students.  In addition, a contract was developed with School Districts #91, 93 and 251 to provide a comprehensive program for trainable, mentally retarded students between the ages 13 and 21.

The dedication of a new warehouse facility on July 7, 1975, greatly expanded the production capability of DWI.

1976

At the conclusion of its third year, Development Workshop had increased its capacity to serve the handicapped from 60 to 109.  In order to provide these services, the staff was enlarged from 18 to 24 professional and para-professional people.

1977

This sixth year was one of stabilization and improvement.  The staff had matured and solidified into a cohesive work force. This resulted in improved services for the handicapped.

Three-year accreditation (the maximum term allowed) was awarded to Development Workshop by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.  This national accreditation was earned by Development Workshop for the second time in the following areas: Work Activities, Vocational Development and Sheltered Employment.

1978

The Adult Development Center program and the Day Training program had continued to grow by meeting the needs of the severely and profoundly handicapped individuals.  A total of seven school districts now contracted with DWI to provide services to educable mentally retarded and trainable mentally retarded students.

Development Workshop, Inc. was selected as the contractor for a model State habilitation plan by the State Development Disabilities Council.

1979

During this year, a 20,000 square foot facility, the Adult Development Center, at 555 West 25th street, was constructed.  The building had large classrooms as well as an indoor recreation area.  The modern Work Activities area provided adequate space for work projects and an enormous area for storage of finished goods and materials.

A 221 percent increase in services to Vocational Rehabilitation clients over 1978 was reported.

1980

This will be remembered as one of the most frustrating years for the staff and the board of directors.  The problems of fitting the programs into a new building and the combination of a depressed economy, which resulted in reduced sales and the increased cost of operation provided many existing and nerve-wracking experiences.

The important highlights of this year was the graduation exercises on May 20, 1980 for five students from four school districts in the Adult Development Center Academic Program and receiving our third three-year accreditation by the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

1981

The past year was one of challenge, change and progress.  Faced with a $43,345 deficit at the beginning of the year, the board, staff and “clients” (those whom the workshop serves) made a concentrated effort to put the corporation in the black.  The work paid off.  The year end showed a gain of $20,338….a figure much more indicative of Development Workshop’s philosophy of economic stability.

Services were provided to 233 handicapped individuals.

1982

At the beginning of this year, Development Workshop faced Federal and State funding reductions amounting to $40,000.  In spite of the many negative financial factors, the clients, staff and board of directors worked together to bring about one of the most successful years in the history of DWI.

The organization was awarded a grant by the Idaho Developmental Disabilities Council to begin a Transitional Group Home in Idaho Falls for adult developmentally disabled individuals.

1983

On June 3, 1983, we concluded the most successful year in the history of Development Workshop with total sales of $1,889,815 and a net profit of $137,354.  Many new product contracts were secured which provided training opportunities as well as an opportunity  for Idaho’s handicapped citizens to earn a living.

In his message as President of the Board of Directors, Lee Gagner pointed out that “the handwriting on the wall is clear that those past sources of monies from the Federal and State are becoming less each year.  We are proud of the fact that this year provided, through the efforts of our clients and staff, 77 percent of all our income from sources that developed from our own efforts”.

1984

Three hundred and thirty-seven disabled individuals were served during the course of this year.  Our average daily attendance was 140, with an active case load of 180 individuals.  A $170,000 net profit was generated to assist disabled individuals.  Our total sales were $2,240,895.

Christmas Festival designated Development Workshop to be the recipient of the earnings from the annual Festival.

1985

This was the best of years and the worst of years for Development workshop which had a $47,000 operating loss.  However, the workshop placed more disabled people in jobs this year.  Fifty-two people found work as compared to fourteen last year.

1985

A reduction in a large order for tent poles from the Department of Defense, combined  with losses of contracts in injection molding from the computer industry that uses plastic products, have contributed to this year’s loss.

The third annual Art Show and Benefit Auction for Development Workshop was held on March 22 and 23 at the Country Club Mall.  Over 200 works of art were on display.

1986

After a deficit year, the fiscal picture of Development Workshop was brought into focus.  A gain in the operations of $25,101 plus the addition of several new contracts suggested that economic stability was present.

It is noteworthy that 82 percent of the total direct labor was provided by disabled individuals.

Through the efforts of the Festival of Trees and the community’s support, this group of dedicated women were able to provide a one-ton truck and ten thousand dollars in cash to Development Workshop.  The total of their gift was $25,000.

1987

Three hundred thousand flashlights for General Services Administration, 900,000 tent poles and 9,000 medical records microfilmed for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center were a few reasons Development Workshop had grown from a $2,100,000 budget last year to slightly over $3,000,000 this fiscal year.  A net profit of $235,000 allowed Development Workshop to expand services to citizens with disabilities in southeastern Idaho.

The first outreach program for DWI opened its doors on July 3, 1987 in Rexburg.  This was made possible by the generous donation by Art C and Beth Porter of the 42,000 square foot Art C Porter building in Rexburg, Idaho.  With the establishment of “Upper Valley Industries” persons with disabilities from Jefferson, Madison, Teton, Fremont and Clark counties will now receive services.

A donation by Dr L. Stanley and Patricia Sell was given in honor of their daughter, Margaret, to retire the debt on the 3,000 square foot tent pole manufacturing building.

In recognition of outstanding services and significant contributions toward the enhancement of programs and services while serving on the Board of Directors and for continuous assistance to the disabled, Development Workshop bestowed the honor of Emeritus Status on Mae Tomblison, Ida Holden and Troy Wade.

1988

Upper Valley Industries start-up, Rehabilitation Engineering, Community Supported Employment, Festival of Trees and expanded contract opportunities were the highlights of fiscal year 1988.  This meant expanded services and increased opportunities for persons with severe and multiple disabilities living within the nine counties of Eastern Idaho.

The first annual Bridge to Braves Run was held on July 2, 1988 with over 150 runners participating.  The first race netted $1,100 for Development Workshop.

1989

We were extremely pleased that we were able to make a positive impact in the lives of over 380 individuals during FY 1989.  Literally hundreds of people with disabilities would not be contributing, tax-paying citizens of Idaho if it were not for Development Workshop, Inc.

1990

Serving about 400 people with disabilities throughout our fiscal year was a thrilling opportunity and experience.  The fact that thirty individuals were competitively employed and were working throughout the nine counties of Eastern Idaho was equally exciting.

Salmon River Industries Advisory Committee was formed to provide direction and local input while plans were underway to establish comprehensive services and a facility in the spring of 1991 in Salmon.

The residential service division of Development Workshop, called Transitional Living Center, was incorporated and its board of directors established.

1991

Development Workshop celebrated its 20th anniversary at its annual meeting, hosted by the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce with over 400 people in attendance.  The hopes and dreams of those parents, business and civic leaders that were planted in the hearts of the citizens of Eastern Idaho have grown into a mighty oak.

Over the years, city, county and state officials have provided funding, support and assistance.  Civic, business and national leaders have provided and promoted programs and services that would enhance the abilities of persons with disabilities to become independent, productive citizens.  They also assisted those people with disabilities in achieving economic and social independence and helped decrease their dependency on state and federal assistance.

1992

A total of 450 individuals received services; 350 in Idaho Falls, 83 at Upper Valley Industries in Rexburg and 15 at Salmon River Industries in Salmon.

Department of Housing and Urban Development notified DWI that a grant in the amount of $427,000 for construction of a resident facility and $606,000 in rent subsidy monies had been awarded to the Transitional Living Center Corporation.

1993

Development Workshop in Idaho Falls, Upper Valley Industries in Rexburg and Salmon River Industries in Salmon received grants from several organizations to expand or to improve the quality of services.  These organizations included: Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Festival of Trees, CHC Foundation, Beckman, Steele Reese, Walmart and Doughtery foundations.

The Margaret Sell Transitional Living Center was constructed and ready for occupancy.  The ten town-house apartments will accommodate individuals with varying disabilities who meet HUD housing requirements.

A total of 34 individuals were served at Development Workshop in the Projects with Industry program.  PWI is an occupational skill training program designed to train and place individuals with disabilities for employment in computer operations, business communications, bookkeeping/accounting, cashiering and customer service.

1994

The State Department of Health and Welfare reported Development Workshop was a consistent leader within the State of Idaho in providing community supported employment to both the developmentally disabled and chronically mentally ill.

General Services Administration awarded a $200,000 per year desk top tape dispenser contract to Development Workshop.  This contract provided 8 to10 new training positions.

The annual report showed continued growth and progress in community-based services and in services to rural areas.  Through the implementation of Total Quality Management procedures, DWI could maintain the high standards of quality that have become a tradition.

1995

This year required many adjustments.  Decreasing government orders, changing philosophies, increased operational expenses and diminishing resources all led to a sharp adjustment of our corporate “sales”.  Despite these turbulent times, Development Workshop has never deviated from its course towards excellence; we continue to provide quality services for a record number in individuals with disabilities and continue to provide quality products and services for our customers.

A record number of 521 individuals with disabilities were served during fiscal year 1995, up from 435 in 1994.  Totals were 389 – Idaho Falls; 119 – Upper Valley Industries in Rexburg and 30 – Salmon River Industries in Salmon.

1996

Development Workshop served 477 individuals as it celebrated its 25th anniversary.  They received commendation for Industrial Indemnity for outstanding safety program.  The annual Bridge to Braves fun run posted its most successful race ever with 427 runners participating.  $18,497 was earned to benefit people with disabilities. The Festival of Trees and the CHC Foundation combined to provide funding to establish the only Assistive Technology Computer Lab in Easter Idaho at Development Workshop. SRI produced 420,000 cot poles for the Department of Defense.

1997

The Development Workshop Foundation was founded.  Development Workshop established a web site at http//www.srv.net/~dwi  Individuals with disabilities chose more community-based employment.  One hundred sixty-eight individuals were served in supported employment.

1998

550 individuals received services this year.  Legislation was passed to extend an Idaho Tax Credit to individuals and corporations that contribute to foundations like the Development Workshop Foundation.  Development Workshop’s programs once again qualified for the maximum 3-year accreditation by CARF. Recent national trends in rehabilitation led to the exploration of changing our corporate name.  We take pride in our reputation and what has been accomplished over 28 years.  Therefore, the board of directors decided to maintain the name “Development Workshop, Inc.”

1999

582 individuals were served as services have been expanded to the Arco/Mackay, Dubois and Island Park areas. Revenue was up 7% over the prior year and excess revenue was $200,000

2000

A new look helped redefine Development Workshop’s marketing print and collateral materials. Our facilities got a much needed facelift.  A new slogan was adopted that better reflects future goals and accomplishments of the past:  “Quality People, Programs and Products – Since 1971”  An all-time record number of (605)  individuals were served.  The board of directors approved a feasibility study for a new facility in Rexburg in order to accommodate UVI’s growth.

2001

Another record is set for individuals served-626.With a gift of $60,000 from the Festival of Trees, the client kitchen at Development Workshop in Idaho Falls receives a remodel creating a more functional training area. The LIFE programs in Rexburg, Salmon, and Idaho Falls past the State Medicaid audit with flying colors to receive state accreditation.  An image survey conducted by a third party consultant reveals that DWI had a very positive image among the citizenry of the communities served.

2002

After surveying our stakeholders, Development Workshop continued to reposition itself by updating the corporate and outreach logos.  The tagline “More…than you ever imaged” was first used in our advertising materials.  Development Workshop purchased Compleat Angler, a manufacturer and marketer of sporting goods. A computer training lab was established at Salmon River Industries.

2003

Festival of Trees contributed $60,000 to provide training and employment services to help offset substantial reductions in available state funds. A computer lab was created at Upper Valley Industries to provide training to individuals served in the upper valley.  Four DWI employees received national recognition from the Department of Energy after taking action to safeguard documents of national interest.DWI received licensure as a psychosocial rehabilitation provider.  The Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor commended DWI on the acquisition of Compleat Angler.  The new venture employed 91 people who manufactured 50,000+ items this year.

2004

The City of Rexburg and Development Workshop finalized an agreement for property in the Rexburg business park to erect a new facility to better serve consumers in the upper valley. The office of the Governor and the Idaho Legislature succeeded in transferring vocational funding for persons with disabilities from the Department of Health and Welfare to the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation .  SRI produced 1.35 million cot poles and 16,000 flag staffs – with 98% of the labor completed by individuals with disabilities.

2005

A record 836 individuals with disabilities were served at our three locations. Development Workshop purchased 2.7 acres of land for the new Upper Valley Industries building complex in Rexburg.17 people with disabilities were able to receive services through funding from the Festival of Trees, which donated $55,000 to Development Workshop for client scholarships and other projects.

2006

837 Individuals served – beating last years’ record by one more person.  A $500,000 grant through Madison County from the Idaho Community Block Grant and a $35,000 grant from the CHC foundation augmented the progress toward a new Upper Valley Industries building.  DWI opened an office in Blackfoot and served 38 individuals through Community Employment Services – with 18 successful job placements.

2007

The first annual “Date with Chocolate” was hosted by Salmon River Industries.  Funds provided by Festival of Trees allowed 55 individuals to receive scholarships for services. Upper Valley Industries began a new Federal product contract.  The manufacture of the Highway Safety Took Kit – providing much needed work and revenue was begun.  DWI created a new, for-profit venture named Development Workshop Enterprises, LLC.

2008

After 37 years leading DWI, Dwight Whittaker retired as President and CEO, handing over the reins of power to Chief Operating Officer, Mike O’Bleness, a 23-year veteran of the Workshop. A new Federal manufacturing contract, Neck Tabs was added.  Neck Tabs are used with female US Air Force personnel uniforms was added.  To encourage client self-advocacy, DWI developed the “SPEAK-UP” program.

2009

Human Resource Solutions added new drivers’ training curriculum to help students prepare to take the written portion of their exam.  Development Workshop purchased the former Hortense B. Hewitt facility in Rexburg, adding 48,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, manufacturing and storage space.

2010

SRI held their 4th annual “Date with Chocolate” fundraising event.  Greater involvement of the SRI advisory board and the community resulted in a doubling of proceeds raised to support programs in Salmon.  Members of the youth delegation of the Association of Idaho Cities toured DWI facilities and worked with clients for a day.  Many considered the time at DWI a highlight of the convention.  DWI reduced overhead expenses from 30% of revenue in the prior year to 18% this year.  This was a result of making difficult decisions and holding ourselves accountable.

2011…