Since 2019 Beyond 26’s document shredding micro business has been a wonderful opportunity for adults with disabilities to find employment and learn work skills.
Stepping into the document shredding offices for the first time the camaraderie and friendship between the workers is immediately palpable.
“They really work hard and are able to shred several pounds of paper every day. They gain the satisfaction of a job well done, but maybe more importantly, they are making social connections with each other. It’s wonderful to see new friendships develop here,” Andrea, one of the document shredding supervisors, said.
Currently 13 individuals are document shredders, and each month more people inquire about the program. The facility is open from 9am-2pm Monday-Thursday. However, most employees only work a day or two per week.
“I have to say you have never seen a group of young adults as happy to come to work as our employees are. They absolutely love shredding!” Andrea said.
The document shredding program has 10 businesses that receive monthly or weekly pick up, including: Grandville Public Schools, Potter’s House, MKD Funeral Homes, and more. Businesses also drop off boxes as needed. This is a good source of earned income which is used to cover both the document shredding expenses and provide the document shredding crew with weekly pay stipends. The stipends promote dignity, confidence, and independence.
Phillip, one of the document shredders, explained that what he likes best about being a document shredder is getting out of the house and making money for himself while working with friends.
The goal of the shredding facility is to create a place where individuals with disabilities can connect, contribute, feel valued, and appreciated. It’s viewed as a job training site and the shredders are taught workplace responsibilities such as being on time, cleaning, and taking pride in their work.
“As their job coach, I’m helping them gain the skills needed to branch out into another job when the opportunity arises,” Andrea said.
To some it may seem like it’s simply shredding paper, but here at Beyond 26 it’s much more than that. It’s a place for adults with disabilities to learn, grow and be accepted. It’s a place where friendships are forged and life lessons are learned.