Sending Greetings, Changing Lives
SW Resources’ Cardability program gives joyful jobs to people with disabilities.
Each year, more than a billion holiday cards are sent through the mail. For more than a decade in West Virginia, some of those cards—created by the Cardability program of SW Resources—have carried an even deeper meaning.
SW Resources is a community-based rehabilitation facility in Parkersburg that is part of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Employing more than 210 client employees throughout its many divisions, the facility provides services to people and companies all over, including The Greenbrier, PepsiCo, and McDonald’s. Last year, the nonprofit developed a new nozzle kit for PepsiCo nationally.
The Cardability program started in 1998 as a small part of the company, but with big impact as the only profit generating piece of the organization. Some of the cards are sold at Tamarack, and work and recognition means a lot to the client employees who have varying mental and physical disabilities.
Employees in the Cardability program have produced everything from wedding invitations for West Virginia brides to Christmas cards for Senator Joe Manchin. “It really gives people with disabilities something to be proud of,” says Ben Summers, sales and marketing manager of SW Resources. Cards are made using an old-fashioned letterpress under the direction of President/CEO Gloria Cox and Cardability Designer and Supervisor Joyce Boone.
“We do all kinds of traditional cards—thank you cards, announcements, wedding invitations. We do a lot of hand-painted stuff,” Ben says. An antique hand press produces black and white images, and then color is hand painted on the designs. “They get to paint all day, and every card is unique that way,” Ben says.
One of the program’s most popular cards is the Mona, a series of cards that includes a caricature of a girl in a purple hat—representing a woman who worked with SW Resources for many years. The card, like many of the cards, is embedded with wildflower seeds. “Instead of throwing your card out, you can tear it up, plant it, and it will grow flowers,” Ben says.
Joyce has been with the program for 12 years as artist and supervisor. She does the initial artwork, and client employees set up the press, print and dry the cards, paint them, and package orders. The work gives them a feeling of accomplishment, she says. “Right about this time, as we start gearing up with our line of Christmas cards, they always ask, ‘Have we got any orders yet?’ They’re all excited.”
Annette Morris has been making cards since the program started. She’s been with SW Resources for 17 years. She says, “Working with Cardability is something that comes from the heart. It’s something that I enjoy greatly, and it’s very therapeutic for me.”
Ben says Annette is passionate about the products, and the work gives her a good job with structure and something to be proud of. “It allows her to be creative in her workplace,” he says.
Workers at SW Resources may also create plaques, awards, name badges, window decals, banners, outdoor signage, and a wide range of promotional products. In all of its services, Ben says the company strives to help client employees reach their full potential. “We want them to be able to live the lives everyone else lives,” he says. “They can go to work at a steady job and have a routine that is beneficial for living a full life.”
More information about SW Resources is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 304.428.6344.