National Disability Employment Awareness MonthOctober 17, 2012 10:45 AM
Brockton Employment Services (BES) supports adults with developmental disabilities and/or acquired brain injuries to find and maintain community-based employment. Our philosophy is that all people deserve to earn at least minimum wage and work in fully integrated community settings. We believe that everyone has talent and the ability to contribute to society. Work is a vital aspect of being a part of the community, and provides a sense of self-worth and personal satisfaction that should be available to all people, regardless of disability status.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To learn about what you or other employers can do during this month, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy. To recognize this important month, we thought we would share two of our favorite success stories with you:
Lois is an individual with Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) who has worked as a bagger in a supermarket for over 15 years. She began having some difficulty at work, and BES was asked to intervene. In the process of straightening out issues with the employer, Lois indicated that she didn’t like working as a bagger, and had bigger and better goals for herself.
Lois had been dreaming of being a “scientific secretary” for as long as her other service providers could remember. BES believes that each individual should be encouraged and supported to reach for their dream job that allows for maximum independence and satisfaction. Lois began by successfully completing BES’s Basic Office Skills course. She and eight other individuals had hands-on training using copy machines, sending faxes, filing, answering a multi-line phone, and customer service. At first, Lois demonstrated difficulty grasping the concept of filing alphabetically and numerically, but with consistent practice, she truly honed this skill.
To assist Lois in getting some real life experience, an internship-type experience, called a job trial, was arranged with the Massasoit Community College Department of Math & Sciences. Lois had a two-week job trial working with two amazing Administrative Assistants. The Massasoit staff taught her shredding, putting packets together, and processing mail from a mailroom. Lois also used the skills she learned in the BES Office Skills course, especially the filing. The office had several boxes worth of filing that Lois completed. She was so productive in those two weeks that she worked herself out of tasks to do!
Through her experiences in this job trial opportunity, she was able to confirm that she would enjoy the daily routine of a person working as a secretary, and also decided that the scientific setting wasn’t as important as she first felt. Lois is very clear about what she wants for her future: a part-time position to start, and once she has gained more skills, a full-time job.
Craig entered our program in December of 2010. Shortly after, in January of 2011, Craig was set up with a volunteer position at the Salvation Army. Craig began volunteering once a week, totaling 10 hours per month. At first, an Employment Specialist would provide transportation and remain on site for job coaching support during his entire shift. He quickly became accustomed to this position and really enjoyed the people he worked with.
Craig soon began to express the desire to volunteer additional hours, and the store manager agreed to allow Craig to volunteer an additional day per month. Craig was dedicated to the Salvation Army, and looked forward to the weeks he got to volunteer two days. In fact, it was impossible to get Craig to stop working until he finished his tasks, even if it was time for his shift to be over. It was evident Craig took great pride in his volunteer position.
Craig continued to volunteer faithfully until April of 2012, when the store manager offered him a paid position. Craig, the store manager, and the Employment Specialist agreed that Craig would work a five-hour shift twice a week. Natural supports were also put in place that would allow Craig to have a lunch buddy and a staff mentor to “show him the ropes.” Craig became quickly adjusted to his new hours (40 hours per month) and excels as an employee.
Craig was also set up with transportation via Dial-A-Bat, which he rides independently. And he is so independent in his job that his Employment Specialist only visits him on the job briefly every other week. Within three months on the job, Craig was fully integrated into a regular transportation and work routine that maximized his independence. Craig now has aspirations of becoming a cashier at the Salvation Army and has begun to work one-on-one with his Employment Specialist to build his money handling skills.
These are just a few examples of how BES has made an impact on the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. We are so proud of the individuals we support. We feel honored to have played a supporting role in the accomplishments highlighted above, but it is truly the individuals served that deserve the credit. After all, they are the ones that ultimately steer and power the ship; we just provide a little navigation.