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Avenues helping businesses through holiday season

With the holidays coming up, it's the busiest time of year for businesses in Schuylkill County, and a non-profit in Pottsville is lending a helping hand.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Workers in Avenues in Pottsville are getting ready for the holiday season. From now until Christmas, members of the vocational program will make sure that Lessie's Garden and Gift Shop is in the holiday spirit.

"Christmas is one of our busiest times of the year. We'll have poinsettias, we'll have wreaths, and they're all made by people who work in the greenhouse," said Peter Keitsock, Avenues Executive Director.

From children and adult daycares to senior citizens and special needs programs, Avenues provides inclusive programming for families in Schuylkill county.

"We really try to listen to the people and give them, provide a service that they want. Not try and have our own program and just try to fit people into our program," added Keitsock.

And the vocational participants tell Newswatch 16 this is their dream job.

"I know I did a good job, and I know every day that I come in, I'll do a good job again," said Katie Wildrick, Avenues Vocational Program Participant.

"Yeah, I feel happy, and I'm glad, and I look forward to the next day," Brian Applegate, Avenues Vocational Program Participant, said.

Working in the greenhouse at Lessie's is just one job opportunity for individuals with disabilities in Schuylkill county. Just down the street in Pottsville is a warehouse full of other participants willing to help businesses with any task.

"Our individuals have been told their whole life they cannot do things. And they always want to prove people wrong. And they always come in. I mean, people have bad days, but they always put on a smile," explained Keitsock.

And Avenues wants even more businesses in Schuylkill county to take advantage of their services through their vocational program.

"The fact that we can do envelope stuffing for mailing, so if someone has a large mailing, you know. We love doing it, and our individuals love doing it," said Kimberly Noel, Avenues Marketing and Events Coordinator.

While the vocational program at Avenues is designed to help individuals enter the competitive workforce, many participants chose to stay because of the work environment.

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