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VCS plans to begin training division


Christopher Andersson

The room at the Village Community Services office building is being converted and outfitted into a training room thanks to funding from the United Way and others.

Village Community Services in Arlington will be able to jumpstart a new training division in part because of a grant from the United Way of Snohomish County.

The United Way of Snohomish County is giving more than $2 million in grant funds throughout the next year to 56 programs in the county.

This year the local United Way's grants are targeting poverty, which United Way officials decided last year would be their major target.

"All of the programs we are funding are tightly aligned with our mission," said Jacqui Campbell, director of marketing and communications at the United Way of Snohomish County.

One of these programs is Village Community Services, which provides services for people with disabilities in the area.

"Our mission is to help people with disabilities achieve their potential," said Michelle Dietz, development executive at Village Community Services.

A grant from the United Way for a little more than $30,000, and additional support from AmeriCorps Vista and the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund will help start Village Community Services "Training Division."

The non-profit is preparing a new room at their office that will offer a variety of classes that will help people with disabilities find job skills and to live independently in their homes.

Dietz said they have an outline for the programs they want to offer and are using the grant funds to develop a full curriculum.

At the training division they will continue their Work Strides program, which is a three-day workshop that helps "people with disabilities identify their strengths and how they can contribute to the workforce," said Dietz.

New classes would help with the soft skills of employment, like grooming, transportation and communication.

Dietz said one class many help people with disabilities learn how to use technology to help their employability.

"Some people with developmental disabilities are non-verbal, so learning how to use an iPad to communicate or to remember tasks can be helpful," she said.

Other classes might focus on simple life skills like laundry, simple cooking and understanding the basics of money, she said.

More programs to help those living with disabilities become more independent are needed because of funding shifts over the years, said Dietz.

"Things have changed with state funding and how people with developmental disabilities are handled," she said.

In the '70s and '80s, many people with developmental disabilities would live in institutions, however with the closing of many of those programs the focus has increasingly become about training those with disabilities on how to be independent.

These programs are especially helpful for those struggling in poverty, said Dietz.

"About 80 percent of the time people who are caring for a person with a developmental disability at home don't have enough money to pay for all the costs of caring," she said.

Campbell said that the United Way's grants are helping a variety of programs throughout the county and attack poverty in a variety of ways.

Grants to CafeWorks are helping provide job training for better employment.

"They are learning job skills so they can get and retain jobs to earn a living wage," said Campbell.

Other grants for county non-profits like Housing Hope and Cocoon House are providing basic needs like shelter.

"If you don't have a roof over your head it's going to be harder to go out the next day and function," said Campbell.

A full list of the United Way of Snohomish County's grants is available at


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