History of CVII

Cleveland Vocational Industries, Inc. was formed and Incorporated in 1984 by a planning group consisting of concerned parents, professionals from Cleveland County Mental Health, Shelby City Schools, Clergy and Business leaders. Until that time, if a person needed services they had to travel out of the County. Funding for services was limited as well and many adults were placed on waiting lists for services. In many cases, people had been waiting for over five years!

A Board of Directors was formed to develop the program. With the help of the M.R. Specialist (Ms. Cindy King) and the Area Director (Dr. Sandy Brenneman) of Cleveland County Mental Health, a small start-up grant was obtained from the State of North Carolina. The board then hired an Executive Director to develop and manage the operational affairs of the organization on January 1, 1985. The agency then obtained a non-conditional licensure to operate an Adult Developmental Activities Program (ADAP).

The Organization opened its doors for service on March 6, 1985 serving 10 individuals. By June of 1985 that number had grown to 40 and the organization was serving people across the entire county. Within months our organization was being driven by the people we served. We quickly learned how important earning a pay check was and started developing relationships with local companies to provide work training. It was obvious that many of the people we were serving had employable skills but needed some help to be successful. In December of 1985 we applied for and received a small venture grant from Cleveland County United Way to develop Job Coaching services. We made our first placement the following spring and the following year we were one of only eight programs state-wide to receive endorsement by Vocational Rehabilitation to provide those services for them. In 1986 we also added services to individuals with more severe barriers using the CAP-MR waiver. Serving those individuals helped us to understand that we were not only helping someone that we served, but their family and the community. Imagine being the sole provider/caregiver 24 hours a day without help. Our services allowed family members to have a life and get involved in the community.

In 1988 we started recycling plastic waste from our local textile industries in a rented building in Fallston, N.C. At it’s height we were keeping 2.6 million pounds of plastic out of our local landfills. True to our mission we decided to train and hire adults with barriers to employment. A modest grant from JTPA (Job Training Partnership Act) helped us develop the training program. It was a great success and we received a Governor’s award for our efforts the following year. We added an additional 17,600 square feet to our facility in 1990 to consolidate our operations.

At that point we had expanded as much as we could on our property in Lawndale and were also doing more community support services. We needed to be closer to Shelby, N.C. to make those services cost effective. We then purchased the property on Post Road and began a capital campaign to raise the funds for our facility. We moved into our new 56,000 square foot facility the fall of 1999. One year later a group of parents, staff and board members began planning services for our older and more medically frail Training Associates. They looked at programs that they considered to be “best practices” and planned LifeSkills of Cleveland County. LifeSkills is a structured day activity program that offers life enrichment services in all areas of a person’s life.

To learn more about CVII’s programs and services, browse our following pages: