Seven years ago, FSC Lighting CEO John Watkins first welcomed employees from Anthesis—a San Bernardino County based nonprofit that provides work and social support to adults with disabilities.
The partnership has been so successful they are approaching a remarkable milestone—Anthesis employees are reaching 100,000 hours of employment with FSC.
The nonprofit was founded in the mid-1960s and now serves more than 300 adults with disabilities by providing community-based experiences and employment opportunities.
It relies on both federal and state funding to support operational costs and pay its participants, but the governmental support only covers about 20 percent of the money needed to pay care providers a decent wage, according to the annual report.
While Anthesis is extremely grateful to individuals and companies like FSC Lighting who support work programs, according to its 2019 annual report, a tax law change in 2017 has negatively impacted financial contributions from individual donors.
Adults with disabilities have among the highest unemployment rates of any segment of the population but companies like FSC Lighting and people like Mr. Watkins help bridge the gap, said Executive Director Mitch Gariador, who has been with Anthesis for 20 years.
“John has taken on the support of providing inclusive employment,” said Mr. Gariador. “He’s provided them an opportunity to work 40 hours a week—and they are very happy with their paychecks.
” FSC Lighting manufactures energy-efficient LED lighting for commercial, industrial and institutional customers. Anthesis employees are picked up each morning by a job coach and driven to the Rancho Cucamonga site where they assemble a variety of lighting fixtures.
The warehouse is clean and comfortable, and the team enjoys socializing while they work and eat lunch together in the break room five days a week.
“We started with a four-person Anthesis enclave as part of our assembly process; they hooked up connectors and socket assemblies for our fluorescent lighting fixtures. The team was so productive and enthusiastic that we quickly added another,” Mr. Watkins explained.
As the Anthesis teams demonstrated an eagerness and enthusiasm not seen with typical temp agencies used by FSC in the past, the program was expanded as employees took on new challenges with changing technology.
Terri Perkins, director of work services, has been with Anthesis for more than 10 years. She said many of their clients still live at home and having full-time employment at FSC Lighting gives them a chance to help financially support their households.
“A mother of one of our clients recently told me that when her son doesn’t have a job, it impacts how he views himself as a young man in society.” Ms. Perkins related.
For Mr. Watkins, it’s important that FSC and Anthesis staff members are treated equally. The program—called Made With Care—is a step toward the company’s goal of having adults with developmental disabilities make up 25 percent of its workforce.
As FSC Lighting reaches 100,000 hours, the staff celebrates with a renewed commitment to provide meaningful employment and more opportunities for a segment of the workforce that is often underestimated and underrepresented.
“We couldn’t ask for a better supporter than John and his team,” Mr. Gariador said.
To learn more about Anthesis, call (909) 624-3555 or visit https://anthesis.us/ Its office is located at 1063 W. 6th St., Ontario, CA 91762. For more about FSC Lighting, visit http://fsclighting.com/.