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January Meeting Features Full Training, Legislative Schedules

Over 50 Missouri workshops were represented Jan. 27 and 28 at the Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers (MASWM) and Missouri Employment Supports and Advocacy (MESA) annual Legislative Meeting in Jefferson City.

The highlight of the two-day event was the annual Legislative Breakfast at the Missouri State Capital. This year’s attendance of representatives and senators was especially strong, with dozens of state leaders talking with workshop managers and staff. Later, several managers visited legislators in their capital offices. Several managers were also recognized on both the House and Senate floors while they were in session.

“The legislative breakfast was great and everyone did a tremendous job,” Executive Director Katie Jones said. “It was quite impressive to have members of MASWM recognized on the house floor and we received a standing ovation! Everyone who attended the conference deserves a big thank you.”

Fast Start

Monday’s schedule was even busier with an afternoon featuring several outstanding training activities.

MASWM-MESA’s state legislative consultant Lynne Schlosser opened the sessions with a comprehensive overview of best practices for communicating with legislators and shared wisdom gleaned from her extensive experience. She stressed that contacting legislators is critical and that as few as five people reaching out can bring about dramatic change.

Copies of the strategic plan, MASWM map and the Who's Who/ ABC of resources for managers are available in the MASWM online Library.
Katie was involved in two sessions, an exciting overview of the MAWM Strategic Plan and a lengthy dialogue on MESA: its purpose, priorities and planning for 2020. The MESA discussion included background on A Team Missouri by Tracy Gritsenko and Mike Stroud, along with additional information from MASWM Legislative Co-Chair Brian Hogan.

Katie also presented a new manager resource guide that will feature information to help managers with everyday issues, as well as larger, ongoing challenges.

Lyndall Fraker, director of Medical Marijuana for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, delivered a special presentation on Missouri’s recently enacted law. Fraker provided detailed information on what workshops can do now that medical marijuana is legalized while still ensuring a safe workplace, especially around dangerous equipment.

Board Meeting

Monday began with the MASWM-MESA Board of Directors covering topics ranging from workshop financial challenges to regulations and legislative challenges. Although several of the challenges are serious, board members noted that individual shops are successfully dealing with them, and one strategy is to share these successes with workshops statewide.

Board members discussed the small but vocal group of workshop critics who sometimes call for elimination of workshops. Several noted that attempts to replace workshop opportunities have brought poor results, with high unemployment among people with disabilities. In one case, “adequate” employment was considered to be achieved with as little as four hours a week.

Other Board topics included Sheltered Workshop Insurance of Missouri. Board member Rob Libera. He noted that SWIM, which provides worker’s compensation to workshops, did not raise rates this year.

Dan Gier reported on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and a major project of updating regulations for workshops. The department plans to implement the new rules in early 2021.

New Managers

Some memorable items were not on the agenda. One involved Board member Melonie Nevels who presented new managers with an engraved coffee cup and a delicious chocolate cake (which others got to share). The new members included Heather Pugh, Richmond; Tom Rireland, Kirksville; Alama Griffith, Piedmont; Teresa Wappel, Branson; Jack Cronin, Lamar; Byron Myers, St. Joseph; Debbi LeDuc, Cameron; Rodney Shivers, Fulton; Gary Litterll, Higginsville; Shari Pretz, Moberly; Scott Bates, Fredericktown; Gina Tacket, Troy; Lee McCall, Sikeston; Carley Ross, Clinton; Misty Miller, Warrensburg; and Jill Cade, Nixa. Jeff Jones, Joplin, and Kit Brewer, Project CU, were also recognized for adding or moving to a new workshop.

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MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact:
President Rob Libera – (636) 227-5666 or rlibera@lafayetteindustries.com
or Legislative Chair Kit Brewer – (314) 647-3300 or cbrewer@cuinc.org