NEW CASTLE, Pa. — On Wednesday, March 28th I took a tour of LARK Enterprises in Shenango Township.
This showed me one of the job training locations that LARK has. This particular location in Shenango Township, focuses on the production of T-Shirt making, for Penn DOT. They do all types of different shirts, from making Penn DOTs fluorescent work shirts to custom designs from multiple people and for companies. Which the process is shown briefly in the video above.
My experience with the Shenango workshop was very pleasant and inviting. The atmosphere was more welcoming than most places that offer a similar line of work. Welcoming faces and offering opportunities to everyone that comes through the doors. My mom even tried to get me to apply and work, sewing the shirts together.
Now LARK is a company that likes to focus on helping those with disabilities, whether they are physical or mental, become better acquainted to the community. Their personal mission statement is to help individuals become self reliant and integrated into the community through greater independent choice and opportunity. They supply support to those in need and one of the main aspects that LARK has to offer is their employment opportunities. “We supply employment services for people who are going to have difficulty with finding and keeping jobs.” says CEO, Sue Lautenbacher. “We want to meet their needs, not just our own.”
Within this company there are many different jobs that can be filled by those looking for employment.
These jobs include but are not limited to:
- Screen Printing
- Produce custom ordered t-shirts for organizations and customers
- UPS Shipping
- Sending and receiving materials
- Putting items into packages to be shipped
- Making the t-shirts out of material
- Kitchen Staff
- Cooks, cashiers, and dishwashers
- Janitorial Staff
- Cleaning contracts throughout the community
- Putting products into an order
- Assembly Work
- Assembling products
- Putting together all the packing orders
- Heat Sealing
- Sealing the products into packaging
- Making sure the quantities are correct
- Operating different types of machinery
- and many more at both LARK locations…
Each of these jobs are available for anyone to do. LARK’s most important mission is to help those with disabilities become better acquainted with the community and develop skills to help them become more of an independent person. The jobs that LARK supplies them helps them to interact with the community more.
Now I personally have grown up with the company LARK. My mother, Connie has worked there for many years. She is now a program specialist. Her job entails, establishing support and helping develop job skills, and proper work behaviors. Those key components help further the workers into competitive employment in the community. Every time I come visit she introduces me to everyone. I have yet to met anyone there that doesn’t offer a kind word, hug, or a handshake. This institute is a great opportunity to get involved in, especially for those who want to get out into the community who can’t. They have a specific program for it.
In this program, an employee from LARK takes people out into the community to enjoy events, or do simple things like grocery shop. LARK wants the world to be more accepting of others and make it easier for those who can’t get involved, to be able to get them more involved. One of the ways that the individuals get involved is attending events that are put on in the community, like attending concerts at The Confluence, volunteering in the community, and becoming a part of their own neighborhood.
It is a healthy experience to be involved in the community that surrounds us. It is known that becoming involved with others is truly good for the soul. It provides a natural support system to the individuals that need assistance.
“How do we help and support an individual during their waking hours.” explains Sue. “make sure they spend more of their time outside of the hospice setting.” That is one of the main focuses of the company. They take care of their employees, staff, and the individuals. Sue explained “I help and support the staff…I’m their cheerleader. I work for everybody.” LARK provides the support for the individuals during the day. They do not have residency within the company.
It is always positive to see that everybody can become involved in the community. I know personally that not everyone gets a fair chance in life, but LARK is giving them the chance to truly become involved and establish responsibility. LARK is making its way into becoming a full social enterprise.
I sat down and talked with CEO, Sue Lautenbacher. In the podcast, we discuss what the company does for the community, what Sue does as the acting CEO, and how they create jobs for people just like anyone else.