Agency/Location: OWC 45 West Main Street Vernon, CT 06066

Contact Person:

  • Executive Director: René Lambert Executive Director (x101)
  • Program Services Director: Debbie Ericson (x102)
  • Development Director: Stacey Dean (x125)

Telephone:  Ph#860-454-4016     Fax# 860-454-8320


What is the Agency’s Mission? 

Opportunity Works Connecticut (OWC) is a non-profit agency that supports people with intellectual, cognitive and physical disabilities in Eastern CT.  We are committed to enhancing the lives of people through meaningful & gainful employment services.  We embrace the idea that all people can live a fully productive life within their community.  

OWC supports these adults in their journey to live successfully by setting the standard in providing program excellence, skill training, mentoring & advocacy.  OWC provides services that aid in positive self-image which will foster a sense of respect & dignity for the individuals we serve and enable them to work & live with quality of life.

What services/ program models does your Agency offer? 

Group Supported Employment (GSE) (GSH) (GSX): Employment of a small or large group of individuals either in the community or at one of OWC business models.

Individualized Day Vocational (IDV)(IND): This is an option for creative Day Programing on an individual basis and is tailored accordingly.  This option can be working or not and includes transportation during the hours of programing.  It cannot take place in an agency setting.

Individual Employment Supported (ISE): This program provides minimal follow along supports for someone that is competitively employed by business with in the community.

Day Support Option (DSO) (Senior Supports)(Vocational skills) :  This support is given in a group setting and includes vocational activities including: cooking skills, arts and crafts, games, community integration, cultural diversity, community events, behavior supports, sensory stimulation, task box, hospitality, cleaning/OSHA, warehouse worker, office work, resume & interview skills training and more.  It can be very person centered and just needs to be written into the IP.  This is not an employment site and is non-paid hours of participants days.

Transportation:  We provide transportation for individuals to and from OWC that are within our area of routes. We are also on the ADA and public bus routes.  We can contract with DDS to be your vendor for ADA ticket supply, ask your case manager for details.

What are the hours of operation? We operate Monday through Friday regularly with the potential of operating on off hours to support the individuals that we serve have more choices and opportunities.  We provide a 6 hour day of supports 8:30am to 2:30pm and are typically open from 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

Are there opportunities for extended hours before or after program? Yes, if there is a job that requires it or if IHS or IDV Day are written into the budget. We also occasionally offer after hours rec programs at the expense of the individuals. No extension hours in our DSO program.

How many individuals does your Agency serve? 105

What towns does your Agency serve? Tolland, Stafford, Vernon, East Hartford, Bolton, Columbia, Marlborough, Glastonbury, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Hartford, Willington, Coventry, Manchester, Mansfield, Windham, Ashford, Willimantic, Storrs, Andover, Somers, South Windsor, Hebron, Union, East Windsor, Windsor, Tolland, Willington, Chaplin, Ellington.

Does your Agency provide transportation? YES to the areas that we currently have vans in routes and only when we have seats available on a vehicle.  You must be attending full time (30hrs a week) to get transportation provided by OWC.

What is the cost for this service? It is part of your DDS Budgeted monies­ as long as your case manager is aware of your needs.

What is your Agency staff to client ratio? We provide the ratio determined by the LON and any additional needs as indicated and budgeted for in your IP.  We maximize our staff to individual ratio at 1 staff to 5 individuals.

What are the Agency training requirements for your staff? All of our hired staff go through an extensive background check, drug test, driving check, a country wide sex offender’s check, auto insurance check, DDS A&N registry check and proof of high school graduation or GED.  They also must have upon hire and annual training that are outlined to us by DDS.  They must carry CPR, first aid & PMT and any client specific training that is needed.  We do offer to train staff in DDS Medication certification training & incidental trainings as needed.

Do you have bilingual/ bicultural staff? We have multi-cultural staff and some that speak Spanish and sign-language that work on the OWC team.

What support services are offered to participants (e.g. nursing, behavioral, OT/ PT, etc.)? We have 6hrs of Nursing Services a week and on-call nursing services that cover all operating hours.  We have a dedicated Behavior Specialist who works with our individuals as budgeted. We are able to work with DDS to seek one-time grant monies or support dollars to provide individuals with any other specialty need service such as speech pathologists, OT/PT, and sensory evaluations.

What would a “Typical Day” for a consumer look like at your Agency?  Your day starts by arriving here between 8:30-8:45am.  You get situated and begin the programing day by 9am.  Depending on your program, you are afforded a break at 10am for 15 minutes, lunch at 12noontime for 30 mins. You end your work day at 2:15pm when you will then get ready (gather your things, clean your area, and bathroom needs) for your transportation and leave between 2:30-2:45pm. Depending on the program you are entering the program pieces of your day vary.

How often does your Agency review participant progress?  We review your progress on a monthly basis but produce a report every 6 months or quarterly if required. If an individual is involved in the completion of a career plan, a review may be required more frequently. A team meeting can be called by any team member at any time.

What are some of the strengths of your Agency?  We are small and relatively new.  We are willing to be creative with our programing to really individualize our supports we aim to be very person centered. We DO NOT pay below minimum wage for real work. Our Vocational skills within our DSO program is extensive and innovative however, there is no pay attached to the training.

Does your agency offer organized social or recreational activities outside your day program hours? (Dances, seasonal parties, bowling leagues, etc.)?  We do offer the occasional after hour’s event.  Which are not funded by the state and any expense to them are the responsibility of the individuals.  These events are less staffed and look more like an independent outing with peers.


Competitive Employment Supports:

Is there an employment specialist and/ or job developer on Staff? We have an Employment Manager, Career Coordinator, Discovery leader, Community Networker and Development Director who all have Job Developing in their Job Descriptions.  We meet often to see how we can improve on finding outside, competitive employment opportunities.  We are currently going through the process of certifying our staff in Customized Employment.

How do you modify supports to meet individual needs?  We will modify supports individually based on the LON and IP meetings. If we need to modify the site, add a fixture, additional support staff, longer breaks, etc.……We aim to be person-centered in our programing.

What community jobs have you found for the individuals you support?  We currently support people at Star Hardware in Tolland, Walgreens in Willimantic, Red Balloon Day Care, YMCA in Ellington, Timothy Edwards cafeteria in Windsor, Geisler’s in Somers; we are always looking for new locations to partner with.

How do you assist individuals find transportation to and from work?  We provide transportation for many of our individuals to and from work and will increase that as long as people are in the current areas that we already provide in and have an open seat on the vehicle.  We are always willing to assist with training for our individuals so that they are able to be as independent as they can and learn to ride ADA or the Public Bus both of which drop off at our front door.  We are an ADA Ticket vendor through DDS.

Does your agency work with the Bureau of Rehabilitation (BRS)?  Not at this time but we are hoping to apply for vendorship with them in the future.

What Supports can you provide to an individual when they lose their job?  We are fortunate to have internal business that we would be able to offer the individual so that they could earn some kind of paycheck while we then assist them with finding another job and refining their skills in our vocational program to prepare them for better success in the future.


Employment Services Programs (55 Individuals)

What types of work crew/ enclave opportunities do you have? Where do people work?  Stafford Fire House Stafford, American Sleeve Bearing in Stafford, Request a Chef in Vernon, Applied Rubber in Windsor.  We are always looking to partner with other businesses.

What employment opportunities are presently available?  See above.  We also have onsite worksites which include: Jewelry making, craft area, stamping group, woodshop, cleaning and our recycling crew.

Do you have 1st and 2nd shift opportunities? Right now we have 1st shift opportunities not to say that that could not change if the need arose.

How are workers paid? Wage determination?  We do NOT use the wage determination.  If you work for OWC you make minimum wage while you do!

Is there a benefit package for workers? Workers who are full time (30hrs/wk) or more a week will get 5 PTO days after a year.  We also have 11 paid holidays that you are eligible for when you have completed your probationary period (90 days).

What do workers do for lunch? Workers of OWC need to bring a lunch we provide a fridge and microwave.  If you are at another site then you need to follow their guidelines.  Some may have food for purchase others may not have any way to heat food up. Your job coach will ensure that you know ahead of time what the situation is.

What is the average hours of work on the crew/enclave?  About 15 paid hours/week, we also provide training, staff meetings, and correspondences the rest of the time in program.


Community Experience Program DSO/VOC

(47 Individuals)

How many participants do you have in your program? 47 in either the DSO traditional program or the Vocational skills exploration program.

What is the staff/ participant ratio? That is determined by each individuals LON however we do not exceed 1:5.  We have several 1:1 supports as well as small group and large group supports.

Do you have wheelchair transportation? Not at this time.  We are looking into grants for vehicles. We do work with ADA to get some individuals out on our outings when possible

Do you support any individuals with behavioral issues? Yes we do, staff are trained in PMT and their behavior program if the individual has a need for this support. We work with a behaviorist who can create a behavior plan to assist staff.

How often do the participants access the community? It does depend on the individual’s plan of support but we try to maintain getting everyone that attends out at least 1-2 times a week.  Those individuals that need additional staffing to go out go at least once a month.

What kind of adaptive equipment do you have available if needed: side layers, mats, standers, commodes, adaptive switches, etc.)?  We do have a changing table and a spare wheelchair.  Otherwise, we do not have any onsite equipment because the need has not come up.  However, we have individuals that bring items with them to the program and we accommodate their needs.  Our staff would be appropriately trained to support the individual with their device(s).

Do you have a volunteer component? Where do participants volunteer and how often? Yes, we have volunteer sites that our individuals can take advantage of.  Some of those sites include: The Ellington YMCA, Columbia Cross Road’s Camp Care, Corner Stone food bank and several rehab facilities. Under the new WIOA law no one can volunteer work skills anywhere other than a non-profit agency.

Can I see an activity or monthly calendar of events? Yes we have monthly activity and outing calendars in the DSO/VOC programs.  They are subject to change based on individual attendance, weather or support needs that day.