Triumph Industries provides participants at The Arc Jacksonville with an opportunity to increase their job skills, review workplace etiquette and improve their independent living skills by working with a contract to assemble boxes for Vistakon. These boxes are used to ship contact lenses out to customers.

Before my visit to Triumph Industries I had some assumptions of what participants did all day while they worked. I had no idea about the process of completing a work order. I assumed boxes were boxes.? After my visit I realized that wasn?t the case and that more details are involved than meet the eye.

I gained a new perspective when I learned about the different kinds of boxes and the effort used to put them together. I was slightly overwhelmed at the amount of detail it involved. Depending on the type, each box is folded a certain way. This isn?t as easy as it sounds. I had to ask a participant to show me numerous times before I could successfully fold a box on my own. It was obvious the participants had more patience than I did and better hand-eye coordination.

There are seven different types of boxes and depending on ?the day?s work order , participants have to fill 180-600?boxes per pallet. The number of pallets done in a day also varies based on the work order. On average participants fill five to eight pallets a day ?day. Participants may also work on smaller contracts throughout the day, including bundling hangers and bags, and brochure packaging.

Participants worked at a steady pace, and most had a signature flow to make sure their work was completed on time. They were diligent and very detail oriented. Some of the participants were so skilled it seemed as if their movements had become second nature.

The floor staff plays a key role in the participants experience at Triumph Industries. Floor staff is responsible for supervising and training the participants.

?We help train the participants so that they can be more efficient at what they do,? said Joella Mack, who has worked with The Arc Jacksonville since 1998.

Every participant is different in the amount of training they may need.? But the goal is to help improve upon the skills they already have.

Participants showed excitement about their working experience, and seemed to enjoy being together.

?What I?ve learned while working with the participants is that it?s not [always] about the work,? said Demetris Robinson, who has worked for The Arc Jacksonville for 12 years. ?For them it?s about coming for the social aspect. They enjoy being around their peers and the socialization aspect of working.?

I?ve learned not to make assumptions before experiencing things for yourself. I have a new respect for the work the participants do for Triumph Industries.

By: Alex McClain

AmeriCorp VISTA