140619_HER07_07Karen Lynn

Age: 53
Hometown: Tucker
Cause: Job training for adults with developmental disabilities and autism

Sixteen years ago, Lynn was managing a post-production video company when she noticed that the recently-hired people with disabilities were not always prepared for the work. She implemented a training program and in a month, these same employees went from packing 35 pieces an hour to 350. Inspired, Lynn started Hands for Hire in 1999 so that 18- to 25-year-old developmentally disabled adults could get job training. Today, the organization, renamed WOW In-Sync, teaches 175 students — most referred through state agencies — community integration and money skills. They get exposure to different workplaces, and those who move on to jobs have a 95% retention rate. WOW’s newest addition:, where her students earn an hourly rate to design, produce and sell “Seriously Cool Dog Gear.”

Says Lynn:

Typically, workplace training is on-site, but not everyone is ready for that pressure. Our focus is to help them get prepared. Then they go to work.”

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