President: Sunshine looking up

Sean C. Morgan

Its former executive director was arrested earlier this month for embezzlement and one of its vans, with a client inside, was trapped under a live power line in a parking lot, but although it may appear that Sunshine Industries is having hard times, Chuck Thompson says, “It just ain’t so.”

“After reorganization and 16 months of solid financial decision-making, we are now on stable ground and moving forward,” said Thompson, president of the Sunshine Industries Board of Directors, and Sunshine’s activities are moving forward. “People say, ‘You’re really having hard times.’ And that’s not the case at all. Everything is more than good.”

Sunshine Industries is a nonprofit organization that serves the developmentally disabled with a variety of programs including work opportunities and various types of training in life skills.

Its flower basket program is running well, with about 55 planters around the community, Thompson said. That’s equal to last year. Some 26 of them are new from last year, and orders are still coming in.

“Thank you, Sweet Home businesses,” Thompson said. “Our clients will be watering and tending the baskets throughout the summer until after Labor Day.”

It is still not too late to get an order in, Thompson said. Call (541) 367-2765, and Sunshine will get a basket out.

“If you want a basket to keep for yourself, we can do that too, but you have to water it,” Thompson said.

June 15 was a big day for clients at Sunshine, Thompson said. “We have 56 clients, and they all earned a paycheck this month. For some clients, it was their first paycheck ever. Boy were they proud.

“The staff has made a monumental effort to get every client involved in some employment activities. That is a monstrous and creative effort when you have such a large number of clients, many of whom have multiple barriers to employment. We are committed to providing new and varied work opportunities to each and every client.”

These activities include working in the woodshop, painting, janitorial tasks inside and outside Sunshine, paper shredding, grounds keeping, washing dishes and laundry, all of which earn them a paycheck and great personal satisfaction.

“You should see their smiles, ‘What work can I do today to earn a big paycheck?’” Thompson said. “Clients this month are taking home over $5,000 to spend in our community. They love to shop with their own money. Some of the work our clients perform creates revenue for Sunshine but not nearly enough revenue to cover their earnings. We are always looking for more work, new work, any work. Think of us and give us a call.”

Sunshine has a new website thanks to Patrick Culy, a staff member, Thompson said. The site is “We are growing it and hope to feature details on our capital campaign, special events and our online store. Keeping this website up to date is definitely a big job in itself.”

The capital campaign will get under way again soon, Thompson said. “It’s going to be kicked off in a matter of a couple of weeks. We felt we had to get our organization financially stable again before going out and asking for money.”

The capital campaign will raise funds to build new facilities for Sunshine Industries.

Thompson invited anyone interested to visit Sunshine.

“You will never see such a happy group of people involved in such a variety of tasks,” Thompson said. “Give Brandon or Roseanne a call.”

Sunshine operates 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., east of Hawthorne School on Long Street. Call (541) 367-5384 for more information.