As we close out 2023, it is time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the opportunities and challenges of 2024.
Program Services Update
In 2023, WestBridge Vocational realized tremendous growth in Program Services. Our Pre-Employment Transitional Services (Pre-ETS) program offered in our local high schools has quadrupled in the number of students served and the milestones achieved since the height of the pandemic. We have also seen growth in Adult Services, Project SEARCH, and Bridge to Work Programs. Our dedicated Employment Support Specialists staff has increased from three to nine, which will expand in the new year. 2024 WBV will see continued service growth, particularly in our schools and supported employment efforts. We are excited that our “in-house” Bridge to Work program will expand to the schools. We also will renew our partnership with Vaya Health and provide supported employment services.
Since 1976, WBV’s manufacturing efforts have supported our mission financially and with training opportunities. Our manufacturing team overcame the effects of the pandemic and provided our valued customers with quality goods in a volatile economy. Recent grant awards from the Golden LEAF Foundation, Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina, and The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina will allow us to expand our customer base and grow our mission. In 2024, WBV will implement a new drape converting machine, incorporate assistive technology in our gluing processes, develop our warehouse, and invest in training – all to maintain current demands while expanding opportunities with new and existing customers.
Fund Development Update
WBV held its first signature fund-raising/friend-raising event this past year, a Fire Truck Pull. The response from our local communities in sponsorships and pulling teams was excellent. The event raised awareness of the importance and necessity of a community rehabilitation program like WBV for the disabled and disadvantaged populations. Planning is underway for the second annual Fire Truck Pull in May. We expect an even better event with more teams, sponsors, and activities. Community awareness is vital to our mission and goes beyond the event. Our Fund Development Team began offering Talk & Tours last year, and the results have been astounding. Individuals, consumers, business owners, and community partners have participated in Talk & Tours and learned about the successes and challenges of WBV and our mission. In 2024, WBV will continue Talk & Tours and raise awareness of our mission of providing job skills training and job opportunities for the disabled and disadvantaged.
Many Opportunities to Support Us
WestBridge Vocational will look back at 2023 and be proud of the successes in Program Services, Manufacturing, and Fund Development. In the new year, optimism is high, and opportunities are boundless. I encourage you to visit us and schedule a Talk and Tour. You can become involved in numerous ways – refer a friend or loved one for services, volunteer efforts, or a charitable donation to our non-profit mission. Most importantly, please spread the word so others will know that there is support for people with disabilities who choose to work in our communities.