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50 Years Serving People with Disabilities in Santa Barbara County

By Rae van Seenus on Nov 29, 2018 at 03:33 PM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog

2018 marked UCP WORK, Inc.’s 50 Year Anniversary dedicated in providing exceptional services to over 400 residents with developmental disabilities, so that they may work and live independently as contributing citizens within the community of their choice.

Today, UCP WORK, Inc. provides field trips for special education classes throughout the Tri-Counties, as well as Yoga, Power Wheelchair Soccer, Community Membership Art Gallery – Santa Barbara Art Works, Supported Living, Residential homes for people who need a higher level of service and employment training and placement services.

In 1968, the Kiwanis of Santa Barbara wished to provide a legacy project to the residents of Santa Barbara and submitted a survey to 150 community members asking what the community needed. The answer that came back was a vocational training program for people with developmental disabilities, so with the guidance from a physician at the city’s Rehabilitation Institute, W.O.R.K., Inc. (Workshop Organized for Rehabilitation by the Kiwanis) was born.

On January 5, 1970, WORK, Inc. officially opened its doors to the public in the large, 16,000 square foot building at 330 State Street. WORK, Inc. had a staff of only three teachers and served 15 participants. The workshop focused on Vocational Skills training in machine operation, landscape and grounds maintenance, mailing and packaging services, electronics assembly, and mechanical assembly.

By 1974, the center was steadily serving on average 90 participants annually. During this time, the workshop was blessed with a well-equipped machine shop, a woodworking facility, and a complete offset printing operation.

In 1992, UCP WORK, Inc. negotiated a small contract with the City of Santa Barbara for the janitorial maintenance of part of the waterfront, with only 7 people on one crew. Today, the UCP WORK, Inc. Harbor Crew maintains the entire Marina with a total of 10 crews and 36 workers, and has the largest contract with the City of Santa Barbara with an annual revenue of $333,000.

50 Years Serving People with Disabilities in the Tri-County

On July 2, 2001, United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) became the parent organization to WORK, Inc. Known as a leader in assisting individuals with disabilities in all facets of daily living, the merger with UCPLA has enhanced WORK, Inc.’s capacity to over services throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

50 Years Serving People with Disabilities in the Tri-County

In 2003, UCP WORK, Inc. introduced services for children. This included Special Education classes, field trips to accessible venues, and family yoga. By October of 2004, UCP WORK, Inc. moved its Integrated Work Program into the Westside Community Center in Santa Barbara and transitioned into what is now called Applied Abilities.

50 Years Serving People with Disabilities in the Tri-County

Looking Ahead
When asked what does the future hold for UCP WORK, Inc., former Executive Director, Kathy Webb, replied, “Because our reputation precedes us, opportunity is seeking us out. Just last week we signed a contract with the CHP and we will be providing landscape and janitorial maintenance work at the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria divisions.”
In the last few years, UCP WORK, Inc., purchased several new group homes in the Santa Maria Valley, for its Residential Services, and is in the process of opening two homes where they will offer specialized services. One home will serve young adults aging out of the youth system and the other home will be a residential home for the elderly – given the number of baby boomers with disabilities who will need a place for the next phase of their lives.

50 Years Serving People with Disabilities in the Tri-County

This is just a small example of the current work happening at UCP WORK, Inc. “We are constantly growing, evaluating, forward thinking and expanding. Today you may go visit our day programs and wonder where the people have gone…you no longer need to look, because they are in the community just like you, having a life and blending into the greater human experience,” said Kathy Webb.