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St. Croix Industries is serving the community

Jamie Ross constructs boxes to package ink cartridges for K-SUN. Submitted photo1 / 3
Joe Stauner and Leon Helgeson take part in selling coupon books for Herberger's Community Days Event. Submitted photo2 / 3
St. Croix Industries' clients enjoy a tour of the New Richmond Heritage Center. Submitted photo3 / 3

"It's like a company family," said Jim Lorenz, whose daughter Amanda is a client of St. Croix Industries.

According to the website, St. Croix Industries' mission is to "provide habilitation and rehabilitation programs to residents of St. Croix County who are developmentally disabled and/or mentally ill, in order to assist them in achieving their highest level of personal, social, and vocational functioning while fostering inclusion in the community."

St. Croix Industries (SCI), founded in 1974, provides work services, job placement services, and day services, said Executive Director Clark Schroeder.

"We try to offer a wide range or continuum of services to provide for whatever people are interested in," he said.

The work services portion of the company completes projects including shrink wrapping, light bench assembly, inspecting and packaging mail. SCI packages and mails over two million pieces each year, according to the website. The organization provides services for county operations, such as the courthouse and jail, as well as corporations, like 3M, said Schroeder.

"(The clients) have become really productive," said Lorenz. "They have a full schedule of things to do. They all have responsibilities."

Job placement services help people with disabilities obtain and maintain community employment, according to the website. Individuals find jobs at local stores. Bob Radtke works two days a week at County Market along with his three days at SCI.

SCI provides the needed transportation for their employees, said Schroeder.

"We have 19 vehicles," he said.

SCI also takes groups to restaurants and other fun locations for day trips on occasion.

"We provide a family-type environment for this population," he said.

The organization has approximately 135 clients. One of the criteria for eligibility on its website states that "there must be a voluntary desire to participate" which is not lacking around the building.

"It's a great learning experience," said Tara Hemauer, who has recently learned front-desk duties such as filing and organizing, "I love learning how to do a lot of different things every day."

Along with providing services, clients enjoy the group aspect of working with their peers.

"St. Croix Industries is about fellowship and friendship," said Jack Vipperman.

Every individual interviewed reported that they enjoyed coming into work every day and missed the group on their days off.

"It jerks at your heart to see them so happy," said Lorenz.

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