Our History

  • The 1970s

    OCCK History: The 1970s

    1970
    • A small, passionate group of Kansas parents came together to initiate services in their communities for their sons and daughters, who at that time had no services. They founded the Occupational Center of Central Kansas, known today as OCCK, Inc.
    • OCCK opened its doors on April 1, 1970, in the former Schilling Officers’ club. The center was a six-county project to train and employ persons whose disabilities made it difficult for them in the regular job market. A total of 29 people were served.
    1971

    Clients worked on subcontracts, including recycling scrap paper for Tony’s Pizza, making sound deadeners for Beech Aircraft, and rebuilding soft drink crates for Coca-Cola. It was the first year for a contract with Saline County for tax dollars. A total of 41 people were served.

    1974

    Services expanded to Cloud County for adults and preschool-aged children. A total of 107 people were served.

    1976

    Services expanded to Beloit for adults and to preschool-aged children in Belleville, Salina, Abilene and, Herington. A total of 215 people were served.

  • The 1980s

    OCCK History: The 1980s

    1980

    Independent Living services started. The first supported employment site was started in a nursing home kitchen. A total of 237 people were served.

    1981

    Interagency agreements were signed with Special Education Coops in Salina and Concordia for preschool. A total of 264 people were served.

    1982
    • OCCK began making buttons for the Smoky Hill River Festival.
    • Construction started on HUD apartments in Salina, Beloit, Concordia, and Abilene.
    1984

    Sparkle Car Wash offered employment experience for people with disabilities.

    1987

    Assistive technology services were started.

    1989

    Tony’s Pizza hired their first employees from our supported employment site.

  • The 1990s

    OCCK History: The 1990s

    1990
    • Transportation services became Post Rock Area Transit and drove more than 341,000 miles with only 21 vehicles in the fleet.
    • Independent Connect began services as a payroll agent and by providing information, training, and support for hiring personal assistants.
    • The one-millionth fluorescent light was packaged.
    • Quality Custodial Services (QCS) received the contract for all building and grounds maintenance at the Solomon rest area, cleaning over one million square feet every week.
    1991

    Kansas initiated the HCBS waiver, and OCCK quickly became a provider, serving people with brain injuries.

    1994
    • A grant from Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities helped to start toy lending libraries in North Central Kansas. A total of 200 families borrowed toys.
    • A 10,000 square foot addition was built at the Schilling location for expanded services.
    1995

    Senator Nancy Kassebaum was the featured speaker at the 1995 Employment Expo that more than 750 people attended.

    1997
    • Employment services celebrated 10 years of having people working with Love Box in Salina and M-C Industries in Belleville.
    • A grant from United Health Ministries allowed OCCK to hire a nurse to assist people in learning independence within their health needs.
    1998

    KDHE asked OCCK to take over infant-toddler provisions in Cloud and Republic Counties.

  • The 2000s

    OCCK History: The 2000s

    2000

    The City of Salina received the 2000 President’s Award from InterHab after being nominated by OCCK. A total of 863 people were served.

    2002
    • The Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDD) became the Disability Planning Organization of Kansas (DPOK).
    • The Access Foundation of Kansas (AFK) was founded with a mission to support nonprofit organizations in North Central Kansas.
    2003
    • Construction started on the new transportation building, the Beloit office, and a townhome in Concordia.
    • Med-A-Van program, a partnership with Salina Regional Health Center, was started.
    2004

    The Transportation facility at 340 N. Santa Fe in Saline was completed and opened.

    2006

    The Abilene triplexes were constructed and opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

    2007

    OCCK took over operations of the Sinclair Station on the corner of West Crawford and Phillips Streets in Salina.

    2008

    CityGo started running the first three routes in November. 

    2009
    • OCCK consumers took over some of the labor to operate the recycling center in Abilene.
    • The eight-year of operation of the Mitchell County Recycling Center was reached.
  • The 2010s

    OCCK History: The 2010s

    2010

    The 20-year anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was celebrated with a march from Magnolia to Jerry Ivey Park.

    2011
    • A new retirement program for individuals with disabilities was established by Salina Regional Employment Services.
    • The Socializing Class for Independent Living held a garage sale to raise money for a trip to Kansas City for a Royals game.
    • Shelia Nelson-Stout was picked to become the next president/CEO after 30 years with the organization.
    2013

    The ChoreFree division was started to help with household and personal chores.

    2014

    InMyHome started a new home health services program.

    2016
    • The 25th annual Employment Expo was held at the Salina Central Mall.
    • OCCK was awarded a five-year contract by Kansas Rehabilitation Services for End-Dependence Kansas.
    2017

    The 81 Connection fixed-route bus service between Belleville and Salina was started.

    2018

    OCCK joined the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center to provide in-home support and training to caregivers.

    2019
    • KANcycle, a regional bike-sharing program in eight counties in North Central Kansas, was facilitated as a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Zagster.
    • OCCK Transportation took over operations for the City of Abilene public transportation program.
  • The 2020s

    OCCK History: The 2020s

    2020
    • OCCK responded with community supports and unique services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • OCCK celebrated our 50-year anniversary. The “More Than You Think” scholarships were established as a part of the celebration, serving as a long-term reminder of the good work that past generations have done and that future generations will do in working with people with disabilities in North Central Kansas.
Play Video

OCCK: More Than You Think

Meet Our Leadership

Our leadership team is committed to attaining and expressing the goals and values of the communities we serve.

OCCK Leadership