Rowan Vocational Opportunities marks 50 years with Oct. 16 event

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

By Wilson R. Cherry

For the Salisbury Post

Rowan Vocational Opportunities Inc. will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an open house on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 2-4 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include tours, a barbecue lunch and remarks from area dignitaries.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities was founded in 1966 by several families and individuals who wanted better services, treatment and employment opportunities for their children and loved ones rather than institutionalizing them, which was common practice during that time.

RVO was formerly known as Rowan County Vocational Workshop, and in 1967, the Rowan Jaycee Council bought the former Ellis School for $2,000 and presented it to the workshop. The Arc of Rowan helped fund the purchase of materials and equipment. There were 29 consumers and five staff members when the facility originally opened.

As the population grew, the workshop moved to the former Lincoln Elementary School in 1971 and later occupied an annex at the former Shuford Memorial Elementary School in Granite Quarry, as well. In 1999, it moved to its present location in the former Rowan County Health Department at 2728 Old Concord Road in Salisbury.

In October 2010, a second location was added in Concord, Cabarrus Vocational Opportunities. To date, Rowan Vocational Opportunities has more than 200 consumers and employees 53 full-time and part-time staff.

On Dec. 1, 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Ketner gave a major gift of $1 million to help build and expand the production area to 17,500 square feet and add a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, which increased the agency’s ability to produce more work and increase the training potential for consumers.

“Our purpose at Rowan Vocational Opportunities Inc. is to provide a setting for consumers that will be conducive toward developing competitive employment and job skills that lead to jobs in the community. We depend on our dedicated customer base to provide work opportunities whether at our customer’s site or at our facility,” said Gary Yelton, Rowan Vocational Opportunities executive director.

“When businesses outsource their business to us it helps increase their employees’ productivity and they receive a quality product in return while providing valuable training experiences for our consumers,” said Glenn McDonald, the agency’s sales and marketing director.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, having received exemplary status.