Sonoma County's Becoming Independent expands workforce training for those with disabilities

Workforce training for industries like hospitality, food, administrative, manufacturing and agriculture industries will be the focus of an expanded 24,000-square-foot Santa Rosa training facility for Becoming Independent.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have always been eager to receive training, support, and most importantly, gainful employment,” said CEO Luana Vaetoe in the announcement from the nonprofit serving those with intellectual and development disabilities. “We’re excited to expand our workforce development program, and as a result, help to fill the workforce gap that our local industries are currently experiencing across a broad spectrum of services.”

She said the center “will provide vocational training in a professional environment that mirrors real-world employment.”

The nonprofit stated it is currently providing services to over 600 individuals, called clients, in the North Bay. One-third of them are receiving job training and employment support at employer sites as well as at the organization.

“Long standing partners” that are employing the Sonoma County agency’s clients are Morton & Bassett Spices, Mary’s Pizza Shack, Villa Capri, Keysight Technologies, Oliver’s Market and Wildman Farms.

Danny Nooris, executive chef at Oakmont of Villa Capri, in the news release said one client, identified only as Garrett, is an asset.

He “comes to work positive, full of energy, and always willing to help the team,” Nooris said. “The BI support staff have been a great help with guiding Garrett to fulfill his highest potential in the work that he does.”

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