Golden Rule 5k & Musical Fun Run
The Next Step: Your Planning Guide to the Golden Rule 5k & Fun Run
March 21, 2017
Show all

Leading fulfilling lives: Vocational services for adults with disabilities

Disability Accessible Sign

As a mother of a children with special needs, I’ve put a lot of thought into where I want them to be when they become adults. Will they always live with me? Would they really be happy doing that? Will they be able to contribute to society on their own, despite their disabilities? What do they really dream of doing with their lives? As my children have grown, I’ve had to make many decisions for them to ensure they have the best quality of life they can so that their future – once they are old enough to leave home – is of the best quality, too.

I’ve taught pre-school, earned a teaching degree, worked as a journalist, been a stay-at-home-mom for 15 years, and worked in public relations and marketing for the last six. Throughout it all, I’ve researched, read, studied, and researched some more – what opportunities are there for adults with disabilities? What direction should we take when it comes time to decide what he’ll do as an adult?

In our case, as it turns out, one is capable of attending college and likely of holding down a job of his own one day with support. One is faces more difficulties, but is still largely self-sufficient as an adult. But that is not the case for most of the people Golden Rule Industries of Muskogee, Inc. serves.

Our working partners have developmental disabilities that are profound enough to make every aspect of “adulting” more difficult. Many need
help with the smallest daily activities – brushing teeth, fixing meals, dressing, cleaning and more. Many need help making decisions, handling money, socializing, and entertaining themselves.

None are ready to turn a job application in to a company and go to a job interview on their own, and most will never be at that stage in their life. But one thing we know from our relationships with our working partners is that ALL want to be doing something with their lives. ALL want to feel needed; want to feel valuable; and want to have more to look forward to than watching television alone all day.

And that’s where vocational services providers like Golden Rule come in to play. The state and federal government earmarks funds to provide vocational services for adults with disabilities.Those funds help us pay our working partners an hourly rate based on their actual work performance, and fund our job coaches who spend each day doing everything from job training to assisting with toileting, but most importantly: giving them friendship and attention they so sorely need each day.

For Golden Rule, it’s not about the quantity of work, or the quality of work, but the quality of life that is most important. Mainstream employers aren’t usually able to provide that kind of environment, but we are happy to help our working partners become employed at those businesses that do make adjustments for their needs.

Still, it’s true that our working partners aren’t capable of cleaning a public restroom as fast as the next person – it may take twice as long. They tend to get distracted easily, and really, we want them to have fun each day, so that’s perfectly okay with all of us. We love spending time with our working partners, and we love teaching them life skills in addition to vocational skills. We serve only adults with developmental disabilities – those whose I.Q.s are less than 70, and many who have co-morbid conditions, both physical and mental, which need management.

If you are interested in Golden Rule’s vocational opportunities, such as the Golden Rule Candlery, please contact us at or by calling 918-682-6500. Visit us on Facebook, Pinterest and Etsy too!

Golden Rule Industries of Muskogee, Inc. is a non-profit agency established in 1953 to better serve adults with disabilities – to improve their quality of life through vocational opportunities and more.


Wendy Burton is a journalist, and volunteer for Golden Rule Industries of Muskogee, Inc. Having raised four children with her fabulous husband (one still at home for a short time longer) she’s learned to embrace her many laugh lines and forge ahead into the “empty nest club.”

Comments are closed.