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Work Therapy Program

When I came to Wayside I felt desperate and worthless, it felt good to work towards a goal. It gave me life skills I could put on a resume. It enriched my life to be able to give back and help others. - Kymora  

Wayside provides the homeless with the necessities of survival.  Once our clients are stabilized with an assured place to stay, food, and shelter, we begin the more challenging work of preparing them to live life on life’s terms. 


In order to ensure our clients’ readiness to leave the shelter’s structured environment and survive in the outside world, we involve many of them in realistic work training settings of the sorts they will experience in their future employment.


Our work therapy program is consistent with peer-reviewed research, especially with veterans.  The VA has an extensive work therapy program in which some of our veterans participate.  A number of peer reviewed studies indicate that a combination of work therapy and traditional counseling and treatment modalities is associated with treatment success, and especially with vocational success and increased earnings, by patients with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.  The success rate of the combined modalities is higher than is that of either treatment or work therapy alone.

It prepared me for the real world and helped build my self-esteem. I know that I can be successful in the workplace. My position gave me experience in the customer service field which helped me build the career I have now. - Brooke

We have a work therapy program for clients in all of our shelters.  We conduct this program in conjunction with case management in order to maximize effectiveness, as the research literature indicates that we should. 


Each work therapy client is placed into a realistic work training setting and given training not only in practical job skills but also in the personal skills of relating effectively with supervisors, peers, and subordinates; accepting direction; and taking initiative appropriately. 


Our program is considered training, not employment.  Each participant receives a weekly gift to provide for personal care needs.  Most participants have assigned and assured beds in our facilities. 


Case management participation, of course, is required to help participants address issues in their training settings and personal lives effectively.  Work therapy is integral to the peer-led substance abuse recovery program and both available and recommended to other clients.

Our work therapy program inculcates specific, transferable job skills while concurrent case management enables clients to incorporate their job skills into productive new lifestyles.  More importantly, these concurrent interventions instill the discipline that may help our alumni/ae succeed at a variety of outside endeavors.


Working in the program helped change my thinking and helped me control my emotions. It gave me guidance and structure in my life.  - Reginald  

Our positions include food service, maintenance/repair, night auditor, sanitation, and security at both our high-volume emergency facility and our hotel open to the public; retail, shipping/receiving, and warehouse operations at the bargain center; printing; and vehicle repair.  Many of our clients transition successfully from our work therapy positions to remunerative jobs with outside employers. 


We have numerous alumni/ae in positions ranging from entry level to mid-management in the hospitality and retail sectors.  Others have established successful careers in nursing and personal care.  Some have returned to school, completed their college degrees, and continued their education on a higher level.

Work therapy was critical to my recovery. I had never worked before, ever. I had been on the literal street for two years and this was an essential part of my learning to live again.  - Nicholas

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