Hidden Hero: Jami Washburn's passion shines through at Sheltered Workshop

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 8/4/22

The Warren County Record and our community partners are launching a new series in which we celebrate local people who quietly work to make their communities a better place, without expectation of …

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Hidden Hero: Jami Washburn's passion shines through at Sheltered Workshop

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The Warren County Record and our community partners are launching a new series in which we celebrate local people who quietly work to make their communities a better place, without expectation of recognition or reward.

Each month, we will accept public nominations of local Hidden Heroes who deserve to be unmasked and presented with their very own superhero cape.

Our very first Hidden Hero is Jami Washburn, executive director of Warren County Sheltered Workshop. The not-for-profit organization provides employment opportunities to people with disabilities, but Washburn also goes beyond the requirements of her job to help the people she works with.

Here’s what Washburn’s nominator had to say about her:

“She shows love, compassion, and friendship to everyone she comes in contact with. She has helped individuals apply for grants, housing applications, and/or drive them places they need to go. If someone comes to her with a problem she will do everything in her power to help them. She always puts others before herself.”

Washburn has worked with Sheltered Workshop for 11 years. The organization currently employs over 70 people with disabilities, including providing free transportation. Washburn says providing those employees with an environment where they can be happy and engaged is why she loves coming to work.

“It’s just so rewarding. You just want to do a good job so they have a great place to come to work, to help them be successful. We’ll help them with anything we can,” Washburn said.

Her work for those with developmental disabilities also expands beyond the workshop. Washburn coaches Special Olympics athletes, takes part in the annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics, and volunteers her time when needed for other activities.

“It takes so little to love helping them. They appreciate everything so much, and they love so big,” Washburn explained. “It’s a rewarding position that I have, and I feel lucky to have it.

“I moved here in 2003, and my first job here was at Handicapped Services doing recreation and Special Olympics. I’d never worked with people with disabilities, but they just grab ahold of your heart. I truly think that they help me more than I help them. ... The kindness and the genuineness they have is beyond measure,” Washburn continued.

Any time one of the employees is having trouble in other parts of their life, from housing issues to appliance repair, Washburn said those who work with them are eager to find any way they can to help.

For those who are interested in what Sheltered Workshop does and how it benefits people with disabilities, Washburn said she’s happy to meet and provide tours any time.

“I promise that you’ll feel better when you leave than when you got here. I’ve been here 11 years, and I still can’t talk about it without crying,” she commented.

Washburn says her favorite part of each day is greeting the employees before work.

“They’re so happy to be here. They’re happy to see you, and they enjoy coming to work,” Washburn said. “It’s fun to see the smiles on their faces when they walk in the door, and the high-fives you get. They’re just so happy to be here, and it’s contagious.”

Hidden Heroes

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