Beyond26 shredding program expands to lakeshore

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Beyond26 provides job training to those without work experience and long-term employment for individuals who need a high level of accommodation. Courtesy Beyond26

A Wyoming-based nonprofit connecting people with disabilities to employment opportunities extended its reach to Grand Haven.

Beyond26 early in January launched its second paper shredding program in Covenant Life Church at 101 Columbus Ave. in Grand Haven. The organization’s paper shredding operation provides vocational training to those without work experience and long-term employment for individuals who need a high level of accommodation.

“In addition to the training and work experience, our paper shredding program provides a place where job seekers with disabilities can connect with others and contribute to their community,” said Dirk Bakhuyzen, executive director, Beyond26.

Grand Haven residents Marie Dukes, Merri Seaver and Lyn VanTol led efforts to bring the program to the lakeshore, after Dukes’ daughter Maddie participated in a jobseeker interview with Beyond26. The Grand Haven program’s first three employees are the daughters of the three women.

“The Covenant Life Church family has embraced our partnership with Beyond26 in every way,” VanTol said. “The first three employees are active members of our church … They are very well known and loved. Once our congregation learned that they were involved in this endeavor, volunteers eagerly signed up. We are truly blessed to have our space used in such a wonderful way for the lakeshore community.”

According to Beyond26, paper shredding teams are in constant need of more paper to shred. Individuals and organizations are invited to drop off documents between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the church. A suggested donation of $10 per standard banker’s box of paper is recommended.

Shredding program proceeds help to support Beyond26’s customized employment services that match job seekers with employment based on their skill set and situation, as well as pre-employment services addressing any job readiness concerns. Once a client is matched with a company, the organization continues to provide follow-up and support services.

“The age 26 is a critical time for developmentally disabled community members, because it is the age when Michigan’s state-supported education system ends, leaving families and caregivers struggling to find support and structure for their adult children after they finish school,” Bakyuyzen said.

Beyond26’s Grand Rapids paper shredding program, which employs 15 individuals, has been operating since 2019 and is located at 1505 Steele Ave. SW.

More information is available here.

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