Prescott, Arizona—For more than 40 years, the people of the central highlands communities have given to Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI). As a "thank you," said Executive Director Brad Newman, YEI's Ruger Airpark Industries (RAI) donates its handcrafted picnic tables, benches, and raised planter boxes to various charity auctions and raffles each year.
"The patio and deck furniture are a by-product of our program," Newman said, referring to the employment training aspect of YEI. "And our production technicians have a huge amount of buy-in. They have an innate desire to participate in this community."
Cody Clark, RAI Team Leader, said he and the production technicians are very aware and appreciative of how much help they receive from the community—so giving back feels like the natural thing to do. On average, they built a couple of projects each month to donate to charity.
RAI products include picnic tables, benches, duets (benches for two people), and the "campfire" model loveseat, which offers a slight angle, as well as raised planter boxes in two sizes.
Recipients of furniture created by RAI production technicians include:
A commemorative bench to honor the Prescott 19 firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell fire in 2013.
The Wild Turkey Federation.
Yavapai Tribe Diabetes Walk.
The Highlands Center for Natural History.
Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Every Habitat for Humanity home.
The Kiwanis Auction.
A fundraiser for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
Building projects for charity, Clark said, gives some YEI members the opportunity to work on projects they wouldn't normally work on—which they enjoy. It also gives the production technicians a sense of pride because they feel like they're helping out and giving back.
YEI! is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities living in the Central Highlands by providing them with job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services. The "Developmental Employment" program at YEI! includes the award-winning "Community Contribution Corps" and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 1978.