July Newsletter

July is National Minority Mental Health Month, created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental health in the United States. We strive to ensure Catalyst is an agent of change in our community for the health and well-being of ALL those we serve! 

Click below to view our video promoting Minority Mental Health Month!

Did You Know?

Our Employment Specialist assist individuals with barriers to employment by assisting with creating resumes, facilitating career exploration, providing interview preparation, computer training, job support, and many other skills to achieve competitive job placement?

Do you think you could benefit from meeting with an Employment Specialist? Call Progress Industries at 419-774-2248. 


Q&A with Mitch Jacobsen

1. What is your title and how long have you worked at Catalyst?    

Director of Vocational Services and I’ve worked at Catalyst for a little over 6 years.            

2. Can you share about some of the services and programs Progress Industries provides?    

Progress Industries is our industrial division of Catalyst Life Services.   

We offer low cost manufacturing solutions to other manufacturers in the Mansfield and Richland County area. Some of the things you might see an employee at Progress Industries (PI) doing might be, assembling flap valves for Gorman Rupp pumps, converting blown film bags for Next Generation Films, performing Quality Control or Inspection on parts produced at Rable Machine, or packaging and kitting components for Warren Rupp.   

A secondary, but equally important component to PI would be our embroidery and print division, which services customers all over the state with embroidered or printed apparel products, as well as vinyl signs and banner products. We have a highly trained team in this division and generally attempt to recruit employees with a high degree of attention to detail and ability to follow instructions from the PI manufacturing floor.

3: How does Progress Industries help clients attain employment?

By giving them the skills needed for success in the workplace. We are not “simulated employment” in the shops, we are the real deal. We teach the hard skills like assembly, quality control and inspection, basic machine operation, knowledge of PPE and safety, shipping and receiving – and we require some of the softer skills like ability to follow instructions and work independently, attention to detail, communication and teamwork. These are the skills that are needed for community employment. These are the skills that are needed for almost any position and our clients can gain them at PI.

4. What do you think is something most people don’t know about Vocational Services?

Our programs have more than doubled in size in the past five years, so it can be hard to keep up with some of the growth and new programs we’re offering.   

Our vocational services are integrated within many other components of Catalyst as an organization. This is a necessity, as we need to be responsive both to the needs of Catalyst as an organization and we need to be responsive to the local labor market and the businesses with open positions. 

We have vocational representatives in other treatment team meetings, providing groups to the unit, meeting with clients who are in the recovery process and seeking employment for long-term stability, as well as a team that is specifically geared toward transitional age youth (ages 14-24). We work with this population to navigate the complexities of the working world and offer some exciting ancillary services such as paid work experiences and driver’s education training. 

5. What do you like most about working at Catalyst?

I love how dynamic Catalyst is as an organization! We are at the forefront of solving major issues on a micro and macroscopic scale. We are constantly developing new programming to meet the needs of the persons served and the needs of the community at large. Working here is one of the most rewarding things, as you have a chance to celebrate the successes of your clients almost every single day. 

6. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yeah! We are always hiring for the vocational workshop. We have first and second shift positions (8-12, 12-4) and are generally open Monday through Friday. While we cannot accept individuals with a history of violent or sexual offenses, we are generally flexible with other legal barriers to employment and would be happy to discuss an individual on your caseload with you on a more personal basis.


Staff Appreciation


     “Major shout out to our industrial workshop and embroidery and print staff! The past few months have been filled with a lot of uncertainty. However, these staff members have continued to come to work and focus on the needs at hand.  Our customers produce products for the automotive, agricultural, and medical industries, requiring us to stay open and keep up with production to continue keeping shelves stocked and the world moving forward. 

     These staff and clients have put forth tremendous effort in adapting to new safety procedures.Thank you to the production staff and clients, we truly could not do it without you!”

– Mitch Jacobsen, Director of Vocational Services


Community Support


We are so grateful to ‘The Women’s Fund of The Shelby Foundation’!

We are one of the 3 local nonprofits they awarded grants to during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WIOA: Fighting the barriers that impede success

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a federal law providing funding to 14-24 year old youth to assist job-seekers with finding employment, help businesses find qualified workers, and to strengthen local workforce development.

The Comprehensive Case Management Employment Program (CCMEP) is an innovative program that can help low-income young adults build career paths, find employment and break the cycle of poverty.

CCMEP integrates funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to offer more coordinated, individualized services. CCMEP offers a wide range of services specifically tailored to each individual.

Ohio was one of the first states in the nation to attempt this degree of cross program integration.

Here at Catalyst, our CCMEP Team works to assist transitional age youth with barriers to their employment and educational goals. The employment specialists working on this team serve in school and out of school youth with things such as paid work experience, job coaching, job placement, assistance with secondary and post-secondary education, and more.


In 2018, 22 year old Amber Browning was referred to the WIOA program at Catalyst Life Services as a single mother of two who had dropped out of high school and was receiving public assistance. Amber’s potential was apparent early on, as she received her GED within one month of entering the program and soon afterward began taking classes at North Central State College. Shortly after the semester began, childcare issues and medical appointments took over Amber’s schedule and she started to fall behind in her classes, eventually dropping out altogether.

That’s when Amber’s employment specialist, Casey Gowitzka, took it upon herself to help Amber achieve her goals. “She would probably say I was very hard on her” says Gowitzka, “but it was because I saw so much potential inside of her that she didn’t see inside herself.”

Amber enrolled back into North Central State College, graduating in 2019 and finding full time employment at OhioHealth as a Radiology Technician earning over $16 an hour. Amber is now free from public assistance and is in the process of buying her first home. We couldn’t be more proud of Amber’s successes and expect many great things from her moving forward.