Founded in 1927 by the National Council of Jewish Women, The Industrial League was a non-profit committee established as an experiment to find out if women “handicapped” by housework and children and could not leave their homes, could contribute to the family budget. Women were trained to be seamstresses, and their finished garments were featured and sold at fashion shows hosted by the region’s socialites.
By the late 1930s, the organization responded to the effects of the Great Depression and began serving immigrants and disabled war veterans. Called the United Vocational and Employment Service, the agency’s mission was “to value the self-respect that comes to the handicapped person as a result of being self-supporting.”
In 1961 the agency’s name changed to Vocational Rehabilitation Center of Allegheny County (VRC) and was incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a non-profit 501(C)3 organization. Following a $2 million capital campaign, VRC moved to a 65,000 square foot barrier free headquarters on Forbes Avenue in 1970. A short seven years later due to expansion needs and the success of the organization, two floors were added to the office on Forbes. Just one year after the second expansion, VRC opened an office in Westmoreland County to better serve individuals in the Mon Valley area.
As we celebrated the new millennium VRC changed its name to the present name: Life’sWork of Western PA and again goes through an “image makeover” complete
with a new logo, tag line and website in 2004.
The rest is history. 90 years later, and our mission still hasn’t changed. Life’sWork still provides opportunity, employment and independence to more than 2,000 individuals each year. And Life’sWork still serves individuals with disabilities, both adults and youth, as well as people with other barriers to employment, including at-risk youth, single parents and people transitioning off public assistance.