When I was a kid in Claremore, I knew that if someone needed old pop cans recycled, he or she should make a trip out north on Industrial and take them to the old “Work Training Center.” As a a member of the Optimist Club of Claremore, I know that people out at the same facility help us with our Easter egg hunt preparations each year. And that was the extent of my knowledge.
Last week, I had the opportunity to learn more when I met with Greg Crawford, Director of Vocational Services for the Rogers County Training Center. The facility is technically located on E.L. Anderson Boulevard, just north of Pelco Structural. When I arrived at the building, I was met by a young lady who was vacuuming the front area. At the same time, a small group was headed out the front door. There was plenty of bustle and activity, and somewhere in the midst of that, I was directed to Greg’s office. I immediately asked him about the history of the organization.
The Rogers County Training Center was founded back in the 1960s by a group of parents of developmentally disabled children who wanted to teach their kids the value of work. Prior to that, there were two “institutions” where those in need could live, in Enid and Pauls Valley. Those schools were becoming dated and overcrowded, and when a new facility called the Hissom Memorial Center opened in Sand Springs in 1964, it quickly became a popular choice among parents of developmentally disabled children. However, there was a group of Rogers County parents who didn’t want that for their kids. They firmly believed that although they knew their children couldn’t fairly compete with others, there was no reason for them not to learn job skills. They would be safe, and they would have something to do each day. Thus, the RCTC was born.
Here in Claremore, there are approximately 40 workers supported by staff at RCTC job sites. Many of them are picked up in the early morning hours by a staff member, who takes an arduous route each morning, covering Claremore, Owasso, Verdigris, Vinita and everything in between. The clients work each weekday from 8:30a – 4p. They receive a paycheck every two weeks, and payment is based on productivity. I asked Greg what kind of jobs the clients perform; obviously in a building as large as that, there is more going on than recycling. (Which, I found out later, actually happens somewhere else, for the most part.) Contracts are held with several local companies, such as HydroHoist and Baker-Hughes, for different tasks, such as parts assembly. A few crews are responsible for janitorial work in area businesses. Others deal with recycling or document shredding, and a few work at the Training Center’s thrift store, Centsible Spending. Another group is driven around to specific businesses to pick up loads of unwanted cardboard, to be baled for recycling at the RCTC. There are a lot of moving parts, and Greg and his staff of 10 work the facility like a well-oiled machine.
Program Coordinator Missie White gave me a tour of the facility, located at 2112 E.L. Anderson Boulevard. We left the front office area and headed back to the first warehouse, where a small group of clients sat at a table shredding documents. (Document shredding is available for .20 per pound. Call in advance before dropping off loads of paper!) The back wall was lined with bins filled with odd bits and pieces; Missie informed me that it was one of the contract jobs for HydroHoist. The warehouse was cool and comfortable; one corner held vending machines. Having a bit of warehouse experience myself, this was one of the better ones I’d seen.
Missie then took me to the next area of the warehouse, where a busy group of clients on one side was dealing with piles of recycling. On the opposite side, more contract jobs were underway. I met several of the clients, and all were quite polite and friendly. I was even complimented by a nice young man named Steven, and honestly, it made my day.
The rest of the building contained several rooms, mainly filled with seasonal overflow product for the thrift store. Or to be more accurate, thrift stores. Plural. Home of Hope operates five Centsible Spending locations: Claremore, Disney, Vinita, Pryor and Chetopa, Kansas. Who knew?
And what better way for me to write about Centsible Spending, than to visit our local location? You might think, “Oh, that’s the store that used to be in the old rock church at Will Rogers and Dorothy. Remember, they tore it down? Whatever happened to it?” Or, “Yeah, that’s the thrift store over by Atwood’s, in the strip mall.” You could possibly be thinking, “No, it’s where Claremore Flowers used to be on 66, by Warehouse Market.” You would be correct in all of those statements. However, Centsible Spending is now in a new location in historic downtown Claremore, at 4th & Missouri, across the street from the Senior Citizens Center. They are planning to stay there for a while!
The store is run by a few staff members and six or seven clients. The inventory consists of household objects, books, clothing and furniture. We were immediately greeted by one of the clients when we entered. The store is incredibly clean and the displays are visually appealing. Everything is neatly organized by category. An area in the back is dedicated to clothing, where a client sorts, launders and steams items before placing them out on the floor. Not all of the stock is used; there are instances when new items are donated or purchased by the RCTC, such as jewelry and sunglasses.
Items are donated by the public, and donations would be really, really welcome right now. (Hint, hint! Please donate your used goods to Centsible Spending!) You’ll get a tax receipt, even, and it’s a great cause. Centsible Spending is open Monday – Friday from 9a – 5p. To keep up with the sweet bag sales and new merchandise, follow them on Facebook.
Remember when I said all I knew about the RCTC was the recycling thing? They still do that. In fact, there is a facility located at 724 Ramm Road, just across from the Claremore Animal Shelter, where citizens of Claremore can drop off recycling. Materials that are accepted are cardboard, aluminum, plastic, glass, tin cans, even oil and batteries. (If you have plastic bottles, please try to remember to take the lids off. It just makes things easier.) The recycling trailers there are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you would like to drop off large amounts of cardboard, paper or aluminum, you may take it to the RCTC, although there probably won’t be anyone available to help you unload it.
I’m glad that I had an opportunity to visit the Rogers County Training Center. It’s a wonderful organization run by truly caring folks. In fact, the staff treats the clients to several fun events throughout the year, like cookouts, holiday dinners and theme dances. If you can assist in any way by submitting recycling or giving donations to Centsible Spending, it would really benefit a terrific cause. As a United Way agency, the RCTC hosts one major fundraiser per year, which is an annual golf tournament and auction held at Heritage Hills each May. The staff also volunteers with United Way events such as the Holiday Boutique and Chocolate Affair.
The Rogers County Training Center is located at 2112 E. L Anderson Boulevard. Centsible Spending is at 117 N. Missouri Ave. For more information, please contact Greg Crawford at 918-341-5936.
Keep it local, Claremore.
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who really needs to start recycling