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Chance Encounter Leads to a Lifetime Career


Tami Bock: for Missouri’s workshops, it’s better to be together.

Area VII MASWM Director Tami Bock never planned on a career in workshops.

But 32 years ago, Tami started as an administrative assistant at Capitol Projects in Jefferson City. Her commitment and abilities eventually led to her becoming workshop director and one of MASWM’s active leaders.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Tami came to Missouri with her first husband who was attending the University of Missouri Science and Technology at Rolla. The couple later moved to Jefferson City, but when she was widowed three years later, she decided to stay.

The summer before, she had worked with children with disabilities in a state school in Jefferson City. When her husband passed, she met the manager of Jefferson City’s workshop, Capitol Projects, which led to work at the shop in 1986.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I just felt that was what I needed to do.”

A Good Fit

The new job drew on many of her skills. Before her marriage, Tami graduated from Christian Brothers University in Memphis with a degree in human development and education. Her coursework in areas like psychology found ready application as she began serving people with disabilities.

“It’s funny because for a long time I wasn’t sure how I was going to use that,” she recalled. “But we do a lot of counseling and work with people to help them grow to their fullest. It’s not just about the dollar – it’s about our employees. It’s about them.”

She also credits her staff. Roughly half of most workshop operations are funded by business contracts. Their management requires a set of multiple skills that can range from savvy business manager to health- care worker. “I’m very fortunate that I have a staff that can do things I don’t feel that I do well,” she said. “They know how to put people in the right place to get the job done. It takes a lot of juggling for all of us.”

Capitol Projects is also blessed with good business partners who help keep the workshop and its employees busy. “Jefferson City is a great area,” she said. “We don’t have to go out and solicit a lot of business. We’re blessed with work.”

Group Efforts

Through her MASWM efforts, Tami also knows that abundant business isn’t true for all of Missouri’s workshops. She’s proud the association has several initiatives to help with that, as well as support in areas such as legislation that can dramatically impact workshop operations.

“There are things all managers need to know about, and MASWM helps tremendously with that,” she explained. “We (individual managers) get busy with our shops, but we need to know what’s going on not only statewide but nationally. We have to keep up because so many things can impact our workshops today.”

Leading that effort is the MASWM legislative team, workshop managers who donate countless hours to work with state and national leaders and ensure a workshop voice for new laws and regulations. “I am so impressed with them,” she said. “I don’t know how they do it all. I am so amazed and thankful for them.”

She also appreciates group efforts like the Sheltered Workshop Insurance of Missouri (SWIM) that provides a cost-sharing pool for workman’s compensation claims among participating workshops. “You get a lot out of it,” she noted. “It’s just another one of those things where it’s better if we’re together.”

Fun Times

Today, Tami still resides in Jefferson City with Bill, her husband of 35 years and an executive with Coca Cola. She stays in close contact with her two adult stepchildren, who also reside in Missouri’s capital with their children. Tami spends time watching her grandchildren in basketball, baseball and soccer while she plays volleyball. She also remains mindful of parents of children with disabilities, including many who look to workshops for meaningful employment opportunities, training and more.

“It may not be the answer for everyone, but it has to be an option,” she concluded. “Where would some of our workers be if they didn’t have a workshop? The workshop is a home away from home for so many of them. You can see it on their faces.”

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MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact: President Aaron Martin – (816) 796-7070 or amartin@jobonekc.org;
or Legislative Co-Chairs: Kit Brewer – (660) 263-6202 or kbrewer@rcsiemployment.org
and Brian Hogan – (816) 483-1620 or bhogan@bvinds.org