A Woodstock skate and coffee shop that for the past year has used its brand to fight addiction and promote mental health now is helping McHenry County residents get back on their feet and into the workforce.
Warp Corps owner Robert Mutert has repurposed the basement of his store at 114 N. Benton St. to house a fully functioning screen-printing operation.
The business, which also sells its own clothing line and Max Happy coffee beans, used a $25,000 block grant to buy equipment for the in-house workforce program.
“We work in collaboration with the McHenry County Workforce Network, and they provide us internship employees for an extended period of time that allows us to help these young people understand the realities of the real world and the workforce that they’re going out to,” Mutert said.
Warp Corps, which operates under the slogan “prevention through engagement,” is particularly interested in helping workers who are undergoing addiction recovery or struggling with mental health concerns.
“We believe very strongly that people in recovery can be a workforce multiplier, not a negative, and we want to help show industries that these are very capable people and they’re on the path to recovery,” Mutert said. “They can be a positive component to your workplace, not a negative.”
Although some workforce participants might find themselves a home at Warp Corps as an official employee, others leave with applicable work skills on their résumé and references to help give them a leg up at their next interview.
“We want to be that company that will give these people a shot,” Mutert said.
In addition to printing Warp Corps and Max Happy apparel, Mutert hopes to print merchandise for other businesses in the area.
“A huge component to our overall success with these programs is to earn other businesses’ apparel business,” Mutert said.
Feb. 2 marked Warp Corps’ one-year anniversary in Woodstock. In that time, the business has made an effort to promote substance abuse awareness and suicide prevention by partnering with organizations such as Live4Lali, a substance abuse and mental health awareness group, and the anti-bullying nonprofit Cam’s Dare to Be Different.
Live4Lali runs Smart Recovery meetings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each Thursday at the Warp Corps storefront.
The shop also hosts “conscious cannabis” workshops focused on legal and responsible marijuana use, as well as regular Narcan training sessions, where attendees learn to administer the opioid overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
For information about meetings and training sessions, visit the Warp Corps Facebook page or www.warpcorps.org, or call 815-985-6256.