Napa Valley PSI was the result of a cooperative effort by the Napa community to address the needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The then called Napa Council for Retarded Children secured a planning grant to study the needs of people with disabilities in Napa County. This study was completed by Elia Katz, Ph.D. in 1967. Dr Katz’s final recommendation was that a Community Rehabilitation program should be developed to teach the skills necessary to integrate people with disabilities into the community and to help them obtain employment.
As a first step to developing the community rehabilitation program, Jeanne Fauquet and Ken Hotelling from the Napa Welfare department were assigned to develop curriculum that would be funded by the Community College and initially taught on site at Napa State Hospital. In March 1970, upon approval from the State Department of Education, Napa Valley Community College began providing a part-time position to teach the curriculum. The curriculum was very successful as evidenced by the fact that Sonoma State Hospital bussed 30 individuals to Napa State Hospital to participate in the job training experiences developed by Jeanne and Ken.
Simultaneously, Jeanne began negotiations to lease the “Old Dairy Building” on the grounds of the Napa State Hospital. Assembly Member John Dunlap introduced a bill to the State Legislature that resulted in a 50 year lease. In April 1970, she left the Welfare Department and with the help of the local reserve unit of the SEABEES, RMCB-2 worked full time to remodel the “old dairy building” for the business of rehabilitation.
During these early years, the decision was made to focus on creating products instead of using sub-contract work. Napa Valley PSI’s first business was making caskets that were marketed and delivered from San Francisco all the way to Sacramento. Over the years, Napa Valley PSI continued to develop new federal contracts including the making of credenzas and desks and worked with a number of local employers to meet their production needs. The number of program participants grew quickly to 60 and the bustling enterprise received a contract from the federal government to make wooden file boxes. The file box contract lasted for over 40 years and ended in 2017. Since 1972, Napa Valley PSI has trained hundreds of people with disabilities who have gone on to work competitively in the community.