Nonprofit of the Year Nominee
1.What is your mission and vision?
Linden Resources, Inc., founded in 1959 by parents of adult children with disabilities, is a northern Virginia non-profit organization and social entrepreneur whose mission is to enrich the lives of people with disabilities through employment opportunities while providing quality services to our customers. Our vision is that all people with disabilities have meaningful opportunities for employment. Linden hires people with disabilities for its own four commercial businesses and contracts with federal entities. Linden Resources also places clients in companies throughout the DMV and provides services to the company and employees that help make the employment successful. Our values are dignity, service excellence, continuous learning, determination, collaboration, and stewardship of resources.
2. How does your organization achieve its mission?
We achieve our mission through our innovative “person-centered” approach, which has been so successful for people with disabilities that we have expanded our mission services to include veterans, homeless people, and individuals living in poverty. The individual seeking employment has several paths to pursue, although placement in a company, government or organization in a competitive job is increasingly sought as often this leads to a career, not just a job.
Our culture, which is based on “choosing civility,” and our values inform our “person-centered” approach to employment placement services. Why is this important? We know that people who engage in meaningful work opportunities have increased self-confidence, a connection to the local community, and a greater capacity for independence and self-sufficiency. We also know that people with disabilities sometimes require extra encouragement and a more individualized approach when carving out their particular career path. A choosing civility culture supports this.
3. How have your programs directly impacted the regional community?
Last year, Linden was honored to receive a multi-year $8 million federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to help unemployed and underemployed fathers, an often-overlooked population, establish or strengthen positive parental interaction. Participants receive training that helps them make better choices, improve relationship and communication skills, and contributes to the financial well-being of their children. 350 people will be served annually and more than 1700 over the next 5 years.
In 2007, as a response to the increasing number of disabled veterans returning to the DC Metro area, Linden expanded its placement services to launch Vets Ready2Work, which helps veterans find and retain community jobs. The unemployment rate for veterans remains higher than the national unemployment average. Because Virginia is one of only three states whose population of working-age veterans will continue to increase, thousands of whom have service-connected disabilities, the issue is especially critical. Vets Ready2Work is significant because it is one of the few programs that focuses primarily on continuous support to the employer and employee to help ensure long-term success. The services provided for local veterans, including Wounded Warriors, depends on grants and the public’s generosity. Annually, we provide support to 80 veterans.
4. What inspires or drives your team to stay committed to your mission?
We are inspired by the people we serve and their determination to gain the skills necessary to obtain meaningful employment. We know that employment is the key to self-esteem and self-sufficiency. We also know that employed veterans and people with barriers always exceed the expectations of the employers when given the opportunity. We experience their achievements every day and, consequently, every day we are awed.
5. What advice would you give to other nonprofits trying to make an impact in their community?
Focus on your passion (mission), what you do best, and where you have financial resources. Make these three components requirements for every plan, action, and outcome. Ask your supporters and stakeholders to do the same. Celebrate the impact!