Friday, October 14, 2011

Arc of Yates & Vere Sandals

Things are shaping up at Vere! Production is running smoothly and sandals are going out the door. This, my friends, is no small cause for celebration.

I got to know the team at Vere a few months back when they contacted me about working with Arc of Yates' program that allows individuals to work in the community--with the aid of a job coach--until they are ready to do so independently. This program offers those with developmental disabilities a chance to experience the working world as the rest of us do. This partnership not only provides the individuals at Arc with invaluable experience but also gives Vere a steady and reliable workforce, allowing for quick turnaround from the factory to the local stores. It is a win-win situation.

Each visit, I’d bring 2-5 individuals to the Vere factory in Geneva, NY. We contrubuted to production at all stages including: gluing, pressing, reinforcing, and sewing. The sense of self worth that working in a real-world, industrial setting provides is staggering. The goal of Arc of Yates is to provide the individuals it serves with the skills needed to become independent and accomplished in their surrounding community.. This is mainly done through training designed and carried out by the agency’s own workshop. Rarely does an opportunity like this arise where individuals can train with the aid of staff in a completely genuine setting before they are advanced into supported work. This gives Arc the unique opportunity to see how its training really measures up against what the working community has to offer-- making adjustments where necessary. Plus,, who wouldn’t want to jam out to the Stones all day and make flip flops?

A big part of what we loved about working at Vere was the atmosphere. Let’s face it, mass producing things is tedious, but not here. However, our time at the factory (four hours a day, five days a week) flew by. It’s the first place I’ve been where the effort to leave is not worth the benefit of being away from work, and that’s saying quite a lot. No dress code. No boring factory hum. No scheduled break times. The floor is prime for skateboarding, you can see the sun in the sky, and you can even burn a logo in your toast should you choose to have some in the morning. I mean, really, what more could you ask for? An indoor slide? Maybe, but let’s not get carried away.

On an equipment note, the shaper is in and running, which allows for the higher-end sandals with rubber soles to be finished and sent out. In our time at the factory so far, we have only been able to work on the sandals with EVA outsoles, so, it will be exciting to see some leather flops being made. However, it’s exciting to see flip flops being made in general. The mysteries that unfold here are amazing, like, recognizing your mom’s handwriting on a package from Santa type thing. I highly advise you stop by and check it out if you’re in the area, and feel free to lend a hand.

Orders have gone out to a local store, Super Casuals, which is located in downtown Geneva, and the public response seems to be positive. For now, they’re selling black and brown Don’s and Betty's until we finish the other styles. Things are moving quickly so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long. Trust me, these guys are trying! They are here making sandals by moonlight more often than is probably healthy.

That’s it for business news, though, and sadly, that’s it for me. My time at the factory has come to an end but I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of this and to have made the small contribution that I have. Fortunately, the individuals from Arc of Yates will stay, and they are the ones doing big things. So, this is generally where I say something witty, give my two cents, and sign off. Here goes:

I am young, but I remember the stories of my grandparents from a time when things were made here, in the U.S.A, and were made better, and were made by a community of men and women who worked at and stood behind their local businesses. Vere is bringing this back. Geneva has done its part, and Vere is doing its part in giving back at every available opportunity. This is a company that has what it takes to succeed and that we should be proud to stand behind, or on, rather. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Now, “go outside.”

Elijah McCarthy
Job Coach
Arc of Yates