By becoming the executive director of Futuristic Industries, Ray Whitton is resuming a dream he had in university.
Back then, he was pursuing an education degree with a focus on special needs.
“The world needs helpers,” he said. “I was taught from a very young age to always look for the helpers, that those were the people that are leading the way. I wanted to be that person.
“School was very challenging and very rewarding but life took me in another direction in terms of employment and I’ve always wanted to get back to that type of work.”
Whitton has worked in various jobs that have included sales and management. When he saw the job posting online, he jumped on it.
“I’ve worked a lot of years already and I really just wanted to get back to something that made me heart-happy,” he said. “I didn’t want a job. I wanted a career, I wanted to to work that fulfilled me and was something that was bigger and better than me.”
Whitton started at Futuristic Dec. 3. He heads an agency that provides work and support for 42 individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Futuristic has a wood shop where household, patio, lawn and children’s furniture are hand-crafted, as well as a recycling facility where the workers gather and process paper products and milk jugs. It also give support to clients when it comes to items like social skills, workplace skills, volunteering, recreation, and ensuring they can live independent lives.
“I think that everybody has a place in the community and in this world,” Whitton said, adding it’s important to promote that philosophy for all. “There’s a purpose to getting up in the morning, there’s a purpose to going to work. You can lead a full and beautiful life, contributing in any way you are able to.”
While he’s only been at Futuristic for a few days, Whitton said he was blessed to be working there and to see everyone’s heart in the right place.
“I’ve never worked somewhere where I come in and be greeted with a hug from 10 other people. It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s very moving, the work that the staff do here is very important and I just feel so lucky to be part of the day-to-day.”
As for his goals while working as executive director, Whitton said he’s focused on learning his position, developing a rapport with everybody and follow the example left by his predecessor, Meagan Ward.
“For now, it ain’t broke, so I’m not here to fix anything, I’m here to do my best to continue the legacy that Meagan has left for me.”
The new executive director encouraged people to follow Futuristic’s Facebook page and to consider the agency the next time they needed furniture.
“By all means, please come down to the agency, have a look around. There’s something here for everybody,” he said. “The amount of hard work and the amount of artistry that goes into this stuff, it’s made with love.”