In 1984, McKenzie Personnel Systems (MPS) was incorporated as a non-profit organization by the parents of two women with developmental disabilities and Dave Mank, a University of Oregon graduate student. That same year, Lane County awarded the organization a contract to provide job development and supported employment to 12 individuals. As the first totally free-standing supported employment program in the state of Oregon, MPS was committed to one thing: real work in integrated community jobs.
In 1989, when MPS had established itself as a successful and stable organization with a well deserved reputation for providing quality services, we were asked if we would like to partner with a local residential program to serve eight individuals moving from Fairview (the state institution in Salem). This was a defining time for our organization for several reasons. First, the individuals seeking service had “severe reputations” and a history of challenging behaviors, sometimes posing risks to themselves or others. Second, there were no programs in Oregon, and very few in the country, serving individuals with such disability labels in integrated community employment. True to our founding values, but not without a little trepidation, MPS took on the opportunity and the challenge of serving these individuals.
Now, more than three decades later, we find ourselves serving over a hundred people in a dynamic service system with new partners and a group of individuals who want to define and direct their services. In addition to our Supported Employment Program, we now have Supported Living and Community Inclusion Programs.