Edmond Business Provides Work, Opportunities for Developmentally Disabled

Every day, employees show up excited and ready to work at their jobs at the Meadows, an Edmond business that specializes in secure data destruction.

Along with 40-plus others, employees sort through thousands of sheets of paper, separating out clean white paper from shiny or treated paper. Some even help supervise other employees, and every day, most workers walk into work with a smile and excitement.

Without a job at the Meadows, the employees would be among the developmentally disabled adults who struggle to find employment in society. Of the employees at the Meadows, 40 are disabled in some way. Twelve full-time staffers do other jobs at the business.

At its heart, the Meadows may be a small business doing data destruction for more than 2,500 clients statewide, but it’s also a home away from home and a career center for adults who suffer from seizure disorders, developmental disabilities, Down syndrome and more.

“It’s amazing the changes you can see,” says James Hill, executive director of the Meadows Center for Opportunity Inc. “Some were nonverbal when they started and now talk. Having this job brings them out of their shell, makes them feel valued and important. You see behaviors change, and they learn to adapt and learn new skills.”

A Place to Grow

The Meadows began in 1982 when a group of parents of special needs students created a foundation to help their children after high school. The foundation purchased 7 acres of land and began fundraising to hire staff that could teach special needs adults with activities of daily living, like cooking, budgeting and basic hygiene.

“Our individuals are a little more challenged, but they wanted real work experience,” James says. “The foundation started contracting with businesses to do tasks like cleaning, stuffing envelopes, building 10-speed bikes, creating MREs for the National Guard.”

The Meadows also gained contracts from businesses like JASCO and Petra Industries to do repackaging and kit jobs, as well as sonic welding of hard plastic shells for electronic products.

“These contracts are 10 percent of what we do here, but 90 percent is document destruction,” James says. “In 1993, the Meadows began looking for another revenue stream in order to be more self-sustaining. They did not want to be dependent on large donor base or state funds.”

Today, the Meadows performs secure document destruction services for more than 2,500 companies, all state agencies and more. It is a member of the National Association for Information Destruction. In the early days, no other document destruction company existed in Oklahoma City, and a chance story by a local news channel about the Meadows boosted business.

The Meadows provides controlled employment and training services to those with developmental disabilities and permanent brain damage as a result of traumatic injuries. These individuals work in a sheltered environment along with other workers who have similar developmental disabilities.

Customers in the business, banking, medical, government and educational fields rely on the Meadows to destroy sensitive and confidential information through data destruction, hard drive shredding and pill bottle destruction. 

In addition, the workers are also earning a wage.

“Our employees are very dedicated, and we have 30 who have been here for 10 or more years,” James says. “Their loyalty and dedication is amazing. They also find a community and a sense of acceptance here. Everyone wants to feel a part of something, to be significant.”

For more information, visit MeadowsOklahoma.com.