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Remodeling starts for VIP Services

Business moving into old Value Village

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published April 3, 2007, 3:50 p.m.)

The first nails are in place at the new VIP Services building, securing a five-year-old dream will become a reality.

Renovations have begun at 811 E. Geneva St., Elkhorn, the old Value Village grocery store, which has been vacant for quite some time. The official "groundbreaking" is at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10.

Come October, after spending about $4 million, VIP Services will move into the remodeled 47,500-square-foot building, expanding its existing workspace by about 13,000 square feet.

"We're planning on moving in the late fall of this year," said Cindy Simonsen, VIP Services executive director. "We'll be in our new home for the holidays, hopefully."

VIP Services, formerly known as Vocational Industries, has run out of space in its building on East Centrailia Street, Simonsen said. A land-locked lot makes it impossible to add any more additions.

With the move, VIP will likely add services to its repertoire, including a new volunteer program and adding more programs for people with disabilities, including computer training and general skills training.

VIP Services is a private, non-profit corporation that offers vocational and community living options to individuals with disabilities "to help them maintain their independence in a least restrictive lifestyle," Simonsen said.

Clients often work at VIP Services, pre-assembling or packaging parts for area manufacturing companies, or work through VIP Services at area businesses. The manufacturing space at the current building is lacking due to company growth.

VIP also offers job coaching, day services to people with more severe disabilities, transportation to and from work and case management for both the elderly and county residents with disabilities.

Annually, VIP serves about 350 people ranging from age 18 to 103, Simonsen said.

About 50 to 60 staffers make the operation run, daily, she added.

"I have gone through the place several times to witness what's happening," said Whitewater's Bob Burrows, a fund-raising volunteer. "I'm always impressed with the kindness of the staff and the interactions of the people. All the people know the staff members.

"It's a warm atmosphere that they've created and it serves a wonderful need."

More is needed to help offset remodeling costs. A fund-raising campaign in full swing for more than a year has netted about $1.5 million. VIP needs about $800,000 more to reach its goal of $2.3 million and offset a mortgage and renovation bills.

"In drives like this, once the first money comes in, it helps spark others," Burrows said. "In the later stages of the drive it's a little harder. Most people in a position to give generously have already been asked to donate already."


To Donate

Contact VIP Services by phone at (262) 723-4043 or visit its Web site-www.vipservices-inc.org-for a list of other donation options. Checks can be sent to VIP Services at 530 E. Centrailia St., Elkhorn, WI, 53121.


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