Since 1949, the Work Training Center (WTC) has strived to support adults with developmental disabilities within Butte County communities. We began with a vision to bring services to everyone, regardless of ability. Now, as we serve almost 200 people in various programs in multiple locations, with a staff of nearly 100 and a budget of $7.2 million, we are still working to make our vision reality.
The Work Training Center was founded in 1949 to serve adults with developmental disabilities in Chico. The first workshop was located at an old barracks building at the Chico Municipal Airport, serving four clients with one volunteer. This workshop was the first of its kind in this area. A decade later, the workshop moved to 1530 Park Avenue and added a thrift shop, having grown to serve 12 clients.
In 1960, the Work Training Center Association for the Handicapped was incorporated as a private, nonprofit corporation. This organization was supported by parents and local organizations with the assistance of the Butte County ARC, Butte County Schools, the Butte County Handicapped Association, and the United Cerebral Palsy organization.
In August of 1963, WTC moved to its longtime Chico location on Fair Street. The participant population had increased to 24, and new space was leased at our current location. It was not until 1972 that the main shop building was built with the help of a capital fund drive and community volunteers. Feather River Opportunity Center was created in the late 1960s with help from the Oroville Adult School and ARC. The name of the facility was changed to Feather River Industries and was merged with WTC in 1990.
By 1978, the WTC had grown to serve 45 persons with the help of 15 staff members and a budget of $500,000.
In 1980 the Creative Learning Center was opened in a small house on the Skyway in Paradise. Prior to locating in Paradise, the Creative Learning Center program was placed at the Mulberry House behind WTC’s main facility. CLC moved to its new location on Ewald Court in 1987. In 1970, the Joe McGie Center began providing services as a program of ARC.
In 1980, WTC took over administration of the Joe McGie Center from ARC. The Joe McGie Center was named after Butte County’s first director of Special Education.
In 1981, Do-It Leisure—which began as a university and community cooperative effort—merged with the Work Training Center. Do-It Leisure provides therapeutic recreation, independent living skills, parenting and social recreation services, weekly sports classes, out-of-town day and weekend excursions, dances, summer camps, and an integrated theatre troupe. It has played an integral role in shaping WTC programming.
In 2018 the Camp Fire devastated our neighboring town of Paradise, resulting in the closure of two of our centers: Made in Paradise and the Creative Learning Center. We moved both programs to our main campus until we sold all our facilities on Fair Street in 2020 amid the world COVD-19 pandemic.
2021 was a redefining year for the Work Training Center. We begun the process of re-establishing our organization and our services to be more person-centered and innovative.
We are always mindful of where we started, and always thinking of where we’re going. We began in 1949 with a group of parents who had a vision to bring services to their children. Seventy-four years later, we are still bringing this vision to light with bigger and better services each year. We are a quality-driven organization where our clients are our top priority—always.
Because of our organization’s initial goals, our name—the Work Training Center—left no mystery as to what it was that we did. The community has grown to know us as occupational preparation specialists who help adults with disabilities over the years. But as we’ve grown to fold in more and more social services and programs, “Work Training Center” truly only tells part of our story. We are still fondly recognized in our community as WTC, with our acronym synonymous with our core values: respect, personal development, inclusion, opportunities, and professionalism.