MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 1, 2013

Assistance agency plans changes

Goals include increased employment, store revamp

— Taylor Foster said he is excited about recent changes for Golden Rule Industries.

The Muskogee agency, which was founded decades ago, helps people with disabilities work in the community.

The Golden Rule mission is to provide jobs and job training for adults with severe disabilities, said Foster, the agency’s new executive director.

The agency is able to do so through its thrift stores – two in Muskogee, one in Wagoner and one in Tahlequah – that employ adults with disabilities, through sheltered workshops and by providing job coaches for those who take jobs at businesses in the community.

“They (people with disabilities) have a need to feel productive just like anybody else,” Foster said. “Right now we employ 31 people, and by March we will employ 50.”

The agency’s five-year goal is to employ 100 people in-house and provide advocacy and job coaching for 100 more working in businesses around the community, he said.

And that’s not all.

Golden Rule rolled out a new logo last week and had a grand opening for its Wagoner store’s new location.

In Muskogee, Foster hopes to clean up the appearance of the store on Shawnee Bypass, eliminating merchandise from the outside of the building and organizing and expanding the interior, he said.

The shopping area will be expanded. Foster’s goal is to change the large storage area in the back of the store into a furniture sales area.

Golden Rule also is moving its offices into a large building it acquired last year at Seventh and Elgin streets.

Among the proposed uses for the new location is a central processing area for goods, a social area for workers and a new home for the sheltered workshop, Foster said.

The sheltered workshop employs adults with severe disabilities, mostly intellectual disabilities, who do simple assembly work for a local industry.

Golden Rule is able to offer the assembly work to industries at a much lower cost than normal because of its ability to pay the workers according to their productivity instead of the minimum wage, Foster said. All the workers receive disability payments.

The industry saves money, and the workers with disabilities have jobs that allow them to make extra money and give them pride in their ability to contribute to society, he said.

The sheltered workshop currently operates in the storage area of the thrift store on Shawnee Bypass.

Foster also hopes to use a large area at the new building for a social and arts/crafts area for the Golden Rule workers.

“I’d like them to be able to have some fun doing arts and crafts, some social time together,” he said. “And I’d also like them to be able to maybe display some of their art work at the thrift shops and sell it, earn some extra money from that as well. I think they would have a lot of fun with that.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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