For more than 50 years, MARCA Industries has supported local adults with developmental disabilities by empowering them to live their best, most productive lives. While they have decades of experience, this agency has undergone major changes in the last several years.
Due to regulatory requirements, MARCA separated from the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 2017 and became an independent provider. Michelle Albertini had served as the Chief Executive Officer for just a few weeks when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Despite the challenges, this nonprofit continued serving clients and made major changes.
MARCA moved from one large location to four smaller buildings. This freed up more funds for services for their 100 local clients. “With COVID, we needed to operate in smaller groups. We provide individualized services in a range of environments,” Albertini said.
“Every client has their own individual goal. Some choose to work and to learn skills to compete in today’s job market. Sometimes their goal is to learn social skills or life skills like cooking. Everything is person-centered,” Albertini explained.
For adults learning job skills, MARCA has a large shredding business. They pick up documents and shred them on-site or at their facility at 2080 Harding Highway East. MARCA clients also work on light industrial projects such as packaging for local manufacturers including Sika and CenMac Metalworks.
“When the community is in a hiring crisis, we have clients capable of doing a portion of the work, allowing companies to free up their employees for other tasks. We would love more of these opportunities,” Albertini said.
MARCA also has crews of four people who work at local companies, aided by a job coach. They earn minimum wage while gaining job experience.
To give clients opportunities to learn about retail, MARCA just opened the reMARCAble store at 122 South Main in Downtown Marion. This boutique offers coffee and a variety of unique, socially responsible products from Ohio artists and small businesses. They are looking for more local products to feature.
“We wanted to prepare clients for jobs in retail. With coffee they gain experience with food service,” Albertini said. “They learn to count change, run credit cards, and stock shelves as well as developing soft skills.”
“MARCA is a great organization serving great people. I’m excited to see them join Downtown Marion and help their clients and our community!” exclaimed Luke Henry, partner with Main Street Reimagined.
Bobby Wanamaker, 34, of Marion, has been a client of MARCA for a decade. He works in the shredding operations and at the reMARCAble store. Bobby also enjoys learning to play the guitar. MARCA prides itself on long-term relationships.
“Our goal is to make the clients excited to be here. I want them to learn and to have the best day possible,” Albertini said. “We all have challenges. Our staff focuses on people’s strengths.”
One additional asset is a welcoming, inclusive community. MARCA invited local businesses to celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March.
“We filled up our calendar so fast, we couldn’t keep up with the invitations,” Albertini shared. “I knew there was strong community support, but that response amazed me. It blew our clients and staff away. They were so completely grateful and appreciative to know we were supported in that way.”
Raising awareness is a part of MARCA’s brand: Maximizing Abilities Redefining Community Awareness.
Adults with developmental disabilities give back to the community. They have volunteered at many local agencies, including animal shelters, the Habitat ReStore, and the Explore-It-Torium. MARCA helps clients find volunteer opportunities and provides transportation. MARCA works collaboratively with the community, clients, and staff.
“I knew from growing up in the area that MARCA had a great reputation in Marion. I am grateful to work with this team and proud of the work they are doing,” Albertini said.