SUNCOM Industries has become synonymous in central Pennsylvania with helping people with disabilities. And nothing illustrates the group’s success more than Ed C.’s story.

Born with mild mental retardation, psychosis anxiety disorder and Tourette’s syndrome, Ed eventually became a client of SUNCOM, which is based in Northumberland County. He began working as an office cleaner before earning a promotion to a mobile cleaning crew. He eventually was nominated for the Pennsylvania Industries for the Blind Handicapped Nettie Mann Achievement Award.

Ed is one of hundreds helped annually by SUNCOM, whose impact expands with each passing year. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by PPL Electric Utilities. We recently provided a $20,000 grant to the organization for the purchase of a truck, which helps the group fulfill its mission.

Today, SUNCOM serves more than 500 people with intellectual disabilities in seven counties – Columbia, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union – through multiple programs, including one providing job skills that allow them to earn a regular paycheck.

With nearly 200 employees, SUNCOM has come a long way since opening as a nonprofit with three employees in 1966.

“It’s amazing to us each time we visit to see the profound impact SUNCOM is having on people’s lives,” said recently retired PPL Regional Affairs Director Teri MacBride. “What you have is people with disabilities trying to achieve their highest potential and an ambitious nonprofit helping them to reach those goals.”

SUNCOM makes that happen through a variety of programs.

The organization provides a day program in multiple counties that helps clients become more independent, develop improved communication skills, build community relationships and live full lives. SUNCOM also has a car detailing operation that gives clients work and customers shiny vehicles.

SUNCOM also places the disabled at businesses within the community by providing various training and social opportunities. Its Mobile Work Force program provides cleaning services to more than 60 businesses.

They also have a production operation that provides services to various businesses in the community. That could mean processing bulk mail, packaging and assembling products and packaging products in shrink wrap.

For example, the workers may package more than 30,000 packs of plasticware weekly. Local businesses outsource their work to SUNCOM, providing paying jobs and skills training.

That’s what made PPL’s contribution so crucial, said Bill Coiley, SUNCOM’s procurement director. He said the agency’s previous delivery truck was falling apart and costing hundreds to thousands of dollars to maintain. The new vehicle has provided reliability and efficiency.

“It’s been a godsend knowing that you have a reliable vehicle for deliveries,” Coiley said.

For more information about SUNCOM, visit the organization’s website.