By JoEllen Black/Richmond News
What began in the early 1980s as an open house for the community to view its sheltered workshop has become one of the largest annual chili and soup dinners in the county.
Ideal Industries will open its doors Saturday to its annual chili-soup dinner in the production area of the workshop. Executive Director Bob McCorkendale expects 500 to 600 tickets to be sold for the event. Tickets can be purchased at the door for a $6 donation.
As usual, Ideal’s top ticket seller is longtime employee Janie Jackson, who’ll sell around 200 tickets for the event.
“The Friends of the Workshop, staff and board do the chili,” McCorkendale said, based on the recipe of the late Dean Snow. “Kathy and David Dugger work overnight on it as they have for years. And employees do some of the cooking, too. It’s the best chili in town!”
Proceeds from the event go toward funding picnics, dinners, dances and day trips for the 123 developmentally challenged employees.
“We recently had a Valentine’s dance for the employees. They were all dressed up and had a ball,” McCorkendale said, adding the workshop plans to take employees to a minor-league T-Bones game this year.
Ideal Industries has three components of employment, McCorkendale said, with packaging and assembly being its cornerstone. Ideal contracts work on per-piece items from larger companies that need additional hands, he said. The workshop has also developed a successful screen-printing business with area schools and sports leagues as main customers.
The workshop also fills the gap in the community by providing a place for recycling glass, aluminum and newspapers.
“It (recycling program) has done really well and we’re upgrading more,” McCorkendale said. Ideal now accepts used appliances, aluminum siding and storm doors for recycling as well old computers and printers.
The workshop has rejoined forces with Ray County Salvation Army on accepting used clothing that benefits both organizations. Residents can drop off clothes at either location.
Ideal has handed off its supportive employment program that allows workshop individuals to work at outside businesses to Community Living Options, operated by the Ray County Board of Services for the Developmentally Disabled.
IF YOU GO
What: Ideal Industries annual chili-soup dinner
Where: 601 N. Thornton in
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March
Cost is a $6 donation to benefit the Friends of the Workshop.
For deliveries, call 470-7137 a day ahead (preferred).