“61 million adults in the United States live with a disability.” “The percentage of people living with disabilities is highest in the South.” “In 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed.” “Across all educational attainment groups, unemployment rates for persons with a disability were higher than those for persons without a disability.” “After age 21, adults with disabilities age out of the services and supports provided by law through the school system...According to parents, nearly 7 in 10 adults with disabilities live with their parents or guardian.”
Statistics. All of these numbers and facts you see above are powerful statistics about the adults with disabilities in America, but behind these numbers and facts are people. People that are limited in how they can live out their lives because of the lack of resources and education that has been provided to them to live a “normal” life, that is often taken for granted.
M.A.C. Industries is a non-profit organization in Clarksville, Arkansas that is a division of Forrester-Davis Development Center. At M.A.C. Industries, their staff and team work every single day to help disabled adults be able to move out of these statistics and facts and be able to earn their own money, live on their own, provide for themselves, cook for themselves, keep themselves healthy, and the list goes on.
The mission that M.A.C. Industries revolves their entire organization around is “…to provide educational/habilitative services that enable developmentally disabled adults to pursue independence and a better quality life. Our vision is to maximize independence for disabled adults by providing vocational training in a successful, versatile business.”
M.A.C. Industries has made such an impact on Johnson County since 1997 when their adult center was built. The impact they have been able to make has been supported and made possible by businesses like First Security Bank that offer their time and attention to help this organization reach as many people--and help as many people--as they do today.
Since the creation of the adult center that is now M.A.C. Industries, they now provide so many different services all within their facility. The services they provide for these adults include (but are not limited to): education classes where they teach household skills so that they can learn to live independently, social community classes, a reading class, extracurricular classes like music and fitness, and the list goes on.
One of their biggest opportunity providers for clients to earn money is through their restaurant, The Falcon’s Nest, which is housed in M.A.C. Industries. Their clients have the opportunity to work in the restaurant if they choose to do so, and they have the option of working as a server, back in the kitchen as a cook doing prep-work and/or assembling the orders, a dishwasher, a busboy, or even at the front desk answering phone calls, working at the register, etc. All of the roles in the restaurant are filled based on the client’s interest and preference. Each client will go through a training process for the restaurant where they will get the chance to practice the skills needed for each job and it is after the training that they will get the chance to pick the position they like best. The restaurant is open to the public for lunch Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM-1:30 PM. At The Falcon’s Nest, they also sell take-home meals for the members of the community to order in advance and purchase hot and ready to eat, or frozen and ready to heat up when you are ready! To top it all off, The Falcon’s Nest also sells different desserts each week that can be purchased individually with your meal, to-go, or as a whole pie or cake that can be ordered in advance as well. Just by visiting The Falcon’s Nest, dining in, or ordering from them, you can support M.A.C. Industries, their mission, and their clients in such a big way.
Another service that M.A.C. Industries provides to the community is their laundry service that is operated by their clients as well. Their laundry services give customers the option to have any clothes they bring to them washed, dried, folded, pressed, starched, etc. They also offer these services for items like comforters and bedding, tablecloths, and so on. Their price listing is on the M.A.C. Industries website, including the option to have your laundry delivered for an extra $3.50. As this service is open to the public, you can bring your laundry to Mac Industries and support this non-profit like many of the members of First Security Bank do.
I was able to sit down with Samantha Dorff and Christina Mize from M.A.C. Industries and Matt Wylie from First Security Bank to talk about the support that Mac Industries has received from First Security Bank as a whole, as well as the individual support they have received from Matt Wylie.
At M.A.C. Industries, Samantha is a habilitation technician, is in charge of the Special Olympics program, works in one of the many classrooms at M.A.C., and does all of their social media posts. Samantha has been working with Mac Industries for about 11 years and has been in love with the work M.A.C. Industries does since she started. Christina Mize also works at M.A.C. Industries and she is the human resource manager.
At First Security Bank, Matt is the market president for the Clarksville branches and he manages their locations and everything from individual banking loans and deposits to any particular banking needs to investments and just a little bit of everything. He also serves as a board member for Forrester-Davis Development Center.
First Security Bank and Mac Industries have had a long-time connection with one another as Forrester Davis--where M.A.C. Industries has developed from--has done their business banking with First Security Bank since 1971 and continues to do so today. Forrester-Davis Development Center has also had several employees from First Security Bank serve on their board, similar to Matt. In the beginning stages of M.A.C. Industries, First Security Bank has also sponsored M.A.C.’s Special Olympics athletes, provided monetary support in building developments, and even sponsored a classroom when the new building was created for M.A.C. Industries.
Christina explained that First Security Bank has “ utilized us a lot. They utilize our services, our restaurant, our community room, and our screenprinting/engraving services. Anytime that they would need something of that sort, they try to think about things that they could purchase from us that would assist and give jobs to people at our facility as well.”
As an individual, Matt has a personal connection with M.A.C. Industries that has allowed him to develop a passion for helping them through being an advocate and consistent volunteer for them.
Matt described this connection in that, “Personally, my dad served on the board in the 80s. There’s a long connection to the value of Forester Davis and broadly at M.A.C. in particular. I know several of us at the bank have been involved with the Rotary Club as well, which has been a champion for M.A.C. as well, recognizing the value of making those abilities count and what that impact has on our community.”
The employees of First Security Bank have been able to offer the value of their time and their individual gifts through volunteering at M.A.C. Industries because of how passionate First Security Bank is about supporting non-profit organizations.
Matt talked about how First Security Bank as a whole is “more liberal in terms of our willingness to allow our employees to take time away from their daily duties, to go and serve on boards, to go be connected with non-profit organziations--no matter what the nonprofit organization is.”
Outside of the support that First Security Bank has displayed towards M.A.C. Industries, they have also become a host site for non-profit organizations. They have opened up their community rooms to non-profit organizations that need space to come in and host meetings and have a space to work while they are getting their organization off of the ground. They also encourage giving to these non-profit organizations that they come in contact with. First Security Bank has gone as far as paying the fee to allow non-profit organizations to become a part of a nonprofit network that allows the organization to accept online donations and receive more exposure to the community.
This mindset of allowing their employees to be involved in acts of service that benefit the overall community has allowed M.A.C. Industries to share its gifts with First Security and the community as well.
Samantha explained how at M.A.C. Industries, “It’s not only just about the value, it’s about the work ethic because that is our main end goal with every client. We want to make them as independent as possible, which doesn’t mean the same end goal for every person because it is individualized. But when you have a client that has been told, you’re not going to get a job in the community, and then they are able to come here, get a job, and get that first paycheck, you get to see the feeling of accomplishment on their face. There is a sense of independence that they feel because they just got a paycheck--and it doesn’t matter if it’s five cents or five dollars or five hundred dollars. It’s the fact that they earned that paycheck and that they are so proud of that.”
This is what M.A.C. Industries is all about. They have dreamed big time and time again, and with businesses like First Security Bank that offer up physical support and volunteer hours to their organization, they can keep growing and impacting lives in such a big way.
When talking about the success stories they have seen at M.A.C. Industries, Samantha shared that “We have one client who is thriving very well. He has worked his way up at Dollar General and is now the assistant manager there, and he started out here at the snack shack that we have opened for our clients and staff--that is run by the clients.”
Even though this is only one success story, M.A.C. Industries see developing stories like this one every single day. They are making what adults with developmental disabilities have been told is impossible, possible.
Outside of all of the services that M.A.C. Industries provides for their clients, they have also been able to host events like dances and carnivals that allow their clients to participate in these activities outside of just working or going to their class. These events have been on pause because of COVID-19 restrictions, but when they start up again, they will be in need of volunteers that make these things possible. First Security Bank has had the opportunity to aid M.A.C. Industries in hosting events and activities for their clients, but you don’t just have to be a part of a business or organization that supports M.A.C. in order to volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering your time and gifts to M.A.C. Industries--and this is not just limited to aiding with events--you can visit their website where you will find more information about them as an organization, as well as their contact information. Along with helping with events for M.A.C. Industries, volunteer opportunities include, being a client’s partner for the Special Olympics, being an aid in a classroom, painting, being a Special Olympic coach, assisting with the garden, aiding in yard work, and the list goes on.
M.A.C. Industries is using their facility and their gifts and their talents to help the community see that these adults with developmental disabilities are more than just statistics and that the statistics are those that be changed by people with intentions of changing them. M.A.C. Industries has established a glimmer of light and hope for any of their clients that they come in contact with to show them that they are capable of way more than they think they are. First Security Bank is passionate about the mission and the work M.A.C. Industries has established, and they have found where they can best help Mac Industries as individuals and as a business. It is this type of collaboration and mindset that allows nonprofit organizations to grow and flourish in the best way possible. All it takes is for one person to see that, act on it, and change the game for nonprofit organizations.
Abby Asencio is a senior at the University of the Ozarks and has been interning with the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce for the duration of the spring semester of 2022. Throughout her internship, she has worked with Matt Bewley to create Connecting Our Community.