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MASWM: Working Hard for Workshops, Managers


Members of the MASWM Board of Directors are meeting or holding conference calls at least monthly in order to keep up with challenges facing workshops.
This article appeared in the January 2019 MASWM newsletter.
MASWM provides a surprising range of services and benefits, so many that it can be a challenge to keep track.

Services and benefits are ultimately what the association is about. MASWM is the one organization dedicated to finding solutions for the challenges facing workshops throughout Missouri.

Telling the Workshop Story

One of the most important efforts today is political advocacy: creation of a voice for workshops and the people they serve. Two years ago, this led to the creation of MASWM’s sister organization, Missouri Employment Supports and Advocacy, Inc. (MESA). It also includes the almost unbelievable work by two legislative co-chairs and other officers. These efforts occur almost daily, and without them, it’s possible Missouri workshops would have significantly lower state funding or laws and regulations that could make their work impossible.

“Political advocacy is one of those things that very few shops could do on their own, financially or timewise,” explained MASWM President Aaron Martin. “But today, it’s critical. We need a voice in Jefferson City and even Washington.”

Other MASWM benefits include efforts to establish best practices for workshops, regional meetings to share ideas and new member information packets. Increasingly, these and other services are becoming invaluable.

Helping Each Other

The most dramatic benefit may be the community of managers organized to help each other. “Just the camaraderie of other managers is important,” Martin said. “Having people I can pick up the phone and call if I have questions is invaluable. I’ve been a manager for 15 years, and that’s still helpful to me.”

MASWM is working to formalize many of these benefits while adding others. A new manager packet is a good

example, focusing on help for managers as they face the process of leading a workshop for the first time. Similar work is under way to better communicate with workshop managers who are unable to attend MASWM meetings. Major efforts are also under way to formalize and increase manager and staff training, a best practices document and other efforts.

All of this does take effort. Although they are donating their time, MASWM’s Board members have steadily increased their commitment, expanding formal board meetings, holding monthly conference calls and often multiple daily emails and individual calls. Two directors, Legislative Co-Chairs Brian Hogan and Kit Brewer, add an additional layer of contacts and trips to Jefferson City and Washington, D.C. Ten directors serve as area directors who offer more individual work with managers in their districts, including new area meetings being held monthly in each region.

Building on the Past

“This isn’t entirely new,” Martin noted. “Randy Hylton (past legislative chair) really set the tone for a lot of our legislative work. Bruce Young (past president) carried a very heavy load. We have increased the workload, but a lot of this has been done for decades. We’re just increasing the pace.”

The need for these efforts is likely to continue expanding. “There are many new issues facing workshops today and still more coming down the road,” Martin concluded. “We need to stay aware of these things and deal with them. Above all, we need to keep our message out there. If we don’t communicate the workshop story, others will. The workshop voice needs to be heard.”

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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