Nestled across from Bray Park in Siler City lies one of the best kept secrets in Chatham. There one finds a bustle of activity of individuals helping others help themselves and the community. There one finds Chatham Trades, the local community rehabilitation program serving Chatham.
Since 1980, Chatham Trades has been providing vocational and developmental services for Chatham adults with developmental disabilities. There these individuals develop their social skills and works habits, and if they choose, continue their academic training. Participants accomplish all of these things while performing meaningful work and earning wages for the work that they perform. In turn, they spend their hard earned wages locally, contributing to Chatham’s economy and pay taxes to help fund the services that they may need. In addition to providing a much needed service for a grossly underemployed portion of the community, Chatham Trades’ services provide much needed respite for caregivers and additional manpower for the business community. Participants working at Chatham Trades’ facility on Alston Bridge Road assist area businesses with small packaging jobs, mailings, sub-assembly jobs, and other short-term manpower needs.
However, Chatham Trades’ facility based services only tell half the story. As participants increase their work skills, Chatham Trades helps work ready individuals find jobs throughout the county and beyond. Studies have shown that individuals with disabilities make more loyal and safer employees, thereby reducing employer turnover and Workers Compensation costs. To accomplish this key service, Chatham Trades uses funding from the county and United Way to provide a job coach to train participants in their new job and to assist the employer with a smoother hiring process. As participants become increasingly successful in their new job, Chatham Trades is able to bring more individuals into its facility in Siler City to repeat the process.
Chatham Trades’ success is dependent upon support from the community. Individuals or businesses may help with donations, work contracts, employment opportunities and referrals.