The Legacy of Metro Work Center
Like many community programs, Metro Work Center, Inc. (MWC) began as a congregational effort. In 1965 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church opened Friendship Center to provide a part-time arts and crafts program for teenagers who had been refused public schooling due to their mental retardation. They partnered with the Open-Door Center at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
While the program began to meet the needs of children in the congregation, as is often the case at Holy Trinity, the congregation quickly recognized the unmet need in the broader community. The part-time efforts of church volunteers were supplanted by paid staff and in 1968 the two programs merged and incorporated as Day Activity Centers of Minneapolis, Inc. There were 35 young clients living in their family homes and attending the program for five hours per day, three days per week, September through May. Facilities and janitorial services were donated by the churches.
In 1973, the two sites consolidated at Holy Trinity where the program expanded to five days per week. By the mid-80’s, MWC served 84 clients and rather than arts and crafts, emphasis was on community integration and in-house vocational work programs. With that focus the organization changed its name to Metro Work Center, Inc. in 1987.
MWC’s population changed too. Children with developmental disabilities were now served in the public schools and were graduating and moving into the work force. MWC was serving adults, some of whom enrolled as children in the late sixties. 75% lived in supported living facilities away from their family homes and persons with a secondary diagnosis of mental health and/or related conditions were more typical referrals than the young adult with a mental retardation diagnosis.
Today the seed that Holy Trinity planted over 50 years ago continues to blossom. Metro Work Center, Inc. continues to provide services for developmentally disabled adults. We now serve nearly 60 adults and operate 5 days a week year-round. Our participants have become more diverse with a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities, include ages 20s to 70s, and commuting from every corner of the metro area. Our oldest participant is 77 years old, utilizing MWC programs for 47 years. We currently have two staff who have each been with our organization for over 30 years.
Help us celebrate our longevity, our work, our service and recognize the past 50+ years of the organization by learning more, to enroll, to renew acquaintance, or to donate, call Julie Washington 612-729-7381, or visit their offices on the third floor, Trinity’s busiest space on most weekday’s.