Led by local residents Lupe and Dean Hahn, a small group of parents formed the Porterville Association for Mentally Retarded Children. Desiring to offer expanded instructional and care services for disabled children as an alternative to the institutional-based state hospital system, this group founded and opened its doors to seven disabled children in 1956. The program was staffed entirely by volunteers.
Opening in an old war surplus building located behind Olive Street School, PSW became the seventh rehabilitation facility dedicated to serving disabled adults in California and the only workshop in a community of 8,500 residents.
Parents liked PSW’s approach to assisting disabled adults and the program grew to about 30 clients by the mid-1960's. Rapidly outgrowing their original home, the Board of Directors guided a community effort to find a new site. The City of Porterville identified property on North E Street and the Porterville Breakfast Lions spearheaded the finance and construction of the new building. Area residents donated their skills, time, and materials to the fund-raising and building efforts.
Recognizing that fund-raising efforts were falling short, the Breakfast Lions secured a loan to finish the building project. Thanks to their perseverance, PSW moved into its new home at 130 North E Street in December 1968.
Through the years, PSW continued to expand client services and programs to the disabled of southern Tulare County. On June 12, 1976, PSW opened its second site at 187 West Olive Avenue. Additionally, PSW added daily transportation services to more than 200 clients.
In May 1989, PSW purchased property at 1900 South Newcomb to house the transportation repair facility and a woodworking shop.
In October 1993, the Workshop purchased its fourth site at 621 South E Street which currently houses the Day Training and Activity Center and the Adult Development Program which provide both mobile and facility-based programs.
In December 2011 PSW purchased its fifth site at 194 West Poplar Avenue which currently houses the Administration Offices. Future plans include moving other programs to the location.
In 2017-18 PSW built a brand new building at 727 S. E. Street to house our growing transportation department. The building was occupied in February of 2018.
Today, this non-profit organization is staffed by 166 employees dedicated to serving 493 persons with disabilities from the community through a variety of programs and services. Services include, but aren't limited to, Work Activity, Supported Employment, Work Evaluation, Work Adjustment, Work Experience, Day Training Activity Center, Independent Living Program and Adult Development Program.
Currently, PSW has 493 clients serving 166 full-time employees, 60 vehicles which include buses and vans, seven locations, six in Porterville and one in Lindsay, and there are four work programs and 11 day programs for clients to choose from. One of the locations in Porterville, 187 W. Olive, has three entities, a recycling operation, a copy center, and a thrift store PSW states its very proud of.