Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FREE Electronic Recycling

Now that we’ve all converted to digital, what to do with that old TV? Electronics can contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury and hazardous chemicals that can harm human health and the environment. Ok, we all know it’s not good for the environment to dump it in a land fill. So it sits around our garage or in the basement, collecting dust waiting for us to figure out what to do.

AtWork!, manager of Issaquah's Recycling Center, has partnered with E‑Cycle Washington to serve as an authorized free drop-off station for recycling computers, CPUs (towers), laptops, monitors and televisions. E-cycling keeps these and other materials out of our landfills and incinerators and conserves natural resources and energy required to make products from scratch. E-cycling helps us all take responsibility for the products we make, buy and use from the beginning to the end of their useful lives.

The recycling center, located at 970 7th Avenue NW, in Issaquah, is open for electronic recycling Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The electronic equipment this program collects will be taken apart and separated into materials such as glass, plastic, metal and toxic chemicals. All recycling will follow performance standards set up by the Department of Ecology.
The recycle center cannot accept keyboards, mice, copiers, scanners, printers, or any other electrical devices. Please note: AtWork! and E‑Cycle Washington are not responsible for the security of remaining data. Please clear your drives before recycling.

All the work of seperating, packaging on pallets, and loading for shipment is done by AtWork!'s clients and staff in our recycle center. Proceeds from this activity go to help pay wages to our clients and support AtWork!'s mission of helping people with disabilities be productive, integrated and contributing members of their communities.

Click here to learn more about E-Cycle Washington or call 1-800-recycle. Click here to learn about AtWork!'s recycling center and all the many products we accept for recycle.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Landfills are 40% Cardboard

According to Jeff Hill of Frog Box, a company that supplies reusable plastic moving boxes and totes, over 90% of the products shipped in, and out of and around Washington State are packaged in cardboard boxes, which requires huge chunks of forest resources each year to produce. Cardboard and paper products take up 40% of our state’s landfills, and old corrugated cardboard is one of the most commonly found items in industrial and residential waste streams.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Reusable services like Frog Box is one way to reduce the impact of cardboard use. Recycling is another. There are many options available if you just know where they are. Conscientiously separating your recycling and using curbside pick-up services is one way. That doesn’t work for everyone. You may not have that service where you live or work, you may not be willing to pay extra for it if your service charges, or you may have too much to fit in the bins.

We have a soltuion. AtWork! has been in the business of recycling cardboard and paper products for 15 years. Our collection site is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just moved and have a whole lot of boxes to recycle? Cleaning out old records and need to have sensitive documents shredded and recycled? Got a whole stack of magazines that you no longer want? What about that old phone book? AtWork! takes it all. Recyclable commodities are sorted, bailed and sold. Proceeds go to support AtWork!’s programs and services that help people with disabilities find and keep good jobs in the community. And, the sorting and bailing is performed by individuals who are learning to enhance skills that they can offer a future employer.

Visit our Recycle page to learn about all the things we recycle. The recycle yard is located at 970 7th Ave NW in Issaquah. Contact us at 425.274.4021 with your questions or to learn more about our services.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Disability Employment: Myths & Truths

Myth: Accommodations will be difficult and costly.
Truth: The average cost of workplace accommodations in 2006 was $600 or less. The vast majority of workers with disabilities do not require accommodations. (Job Accommodation Network, 2006)

Myth: People with disabilities will sue.
Truth: Studies show that disability claims are rare. For example, 91% of employers had no ADA complaints filed in the previous 12 months. (Society of Human Resource Management, April 2003).
Truth: People with disabilities want jobs, not lawsuits, and they are no more of a “legal liability” than other employees. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2006)

Myth: Employees with disabilities will use more sick leave and health care.
Truth: Employees with disabilities have been shown to have the same absentee and sick rates as nondisabled employees.
Truth: Large companies do not experience increased insurance premiums when they hire employees with disabilities. Because of Medicare and Medicaid buy-in programs, many people with disabilities carry their own primary insurance, thereby reducing their employer’s costs. (Social Security Administration, 2006).
Truth: Companies that institute Return-to-Work programs for employees who become disabled can actually reduce insurance costs.

To learn about resources for employers visit atworkwa.org/employers.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once Hired, Keeping the Job

AtWork! Employment Consultants initially take the role of helping the individual with a disability identify, choose, and access the needed workplace supports at whatever level of assistance the individual prefers. This would include helping the employer identify and provide the needed supports. The goal is to assist the business in supporting the individual with a disability rather than the person continually relying on AtWork! staff.


Workplace supports typically exist in a business and are available to all employees. They may include but are not limited to such things as a co-worker mentor who assists an employee in learning the job, a supervisor who monitors work performance, a co-worker who assists the new worker in developing social networks, or making maximum use of orientation training. This also could include other company sponsored training events, programs and benefits such as an employee assistance program. Workplace supports also may be specifically designed to assist a particular employee with his or her job performance. This could include modifications to the work environment, adjustments to employment policies or practices, and/or changes in the way certain job functions are performed that allow the employee to get the job done successfully.

The person with the disability may already know or have some ideas of what he or she needs. At other times, the individual may need guidance. Taking advantage of the support resources that are available in a workplace may not automatically occur for many individuals with disabilities.

Even if a resource exists, the individual may not know how to access or benefit from its use. He/she may be unaware of the potential support, how to choose among the support alternatives that are available, or how to access a desired resource. In addition, a company may have varying levels of resource options. For instance, one company may have an intensive orientation and training program while another has none. The existing workplace supports within any company must be analyzed to determine if they meet the needs of the individual with a disability who has been hired. A one time, two-hour lecture on company policies may be of little benefit, while a co-worker who explains the “unwritten rules” of the workplace to the new employee with a disability may be an extremely valuable resource.

When the employee and the employer agree that it is time to transfer responsibility for support from the AtWork! Employment Consultant to the workplace, the consultant will fade from the work site, allowing the employee to gain independence on the job. The consultant continues to check in as needed to ensure that success continues. When job responsibilities change or when there are changes to the normal routine, the consultant can step back in to provide additional training or coaching.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Jerry and Fred Meyer Find Each Other

Jerry has been working since he left high school, but there have been several positions and he’s had difficulty retaining employment. Many times he left a job with little notice. As a consequence he did not have good references. His departures were so abrupt, they were a negative. Jerry needed help to make sound decisions in seeking a rewarding position that offered longer term opportunity.

He interviewed at Fred Meyer in Issaquah, along with Dennis Wajda, his AtWork! Employment Consultant, and was hired immediately. Now the challenge was job retention. He adapted very well to his job environment and is happy there.

Jerry is a Front End Cart Attendant with a schedule totaling 35 hours per week. He patrols the parking lot, along with a crew of four, retrieving shopping carts, returning them to the store, fishing out trash and store circulars to recycle or throw away, and keeping the stock of empty carts available for customers.

AtWork! will provide the support that will help Jerry retain his Fred Meyer job and have a successful career. Regular check-ins from Dennis and retraining when needed, open communication with store management and Jerry’s supervisor, will all contribute to success on the job.



Click here if you would like to read more stories like Jerry's.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ryan Has a Job


“I like it here. I like the people, I make more money, and it’s fun.”
Ryan has a job. He began working at the McDonald’s on October 12, 2007. He can tell you the day because he was excited and nervous, but ready for a new challenge.
AtWork! began serving Ryan when he transitioned from his high school program. He lives in Kent but made the daily commute to AtWork!’s Kenmore and later Bellevue shop for several years. He finished up his career with AtWork! enterprises in its Issaquah facility. Each move was a bit closer to home and another step on his pathway to employment. Now Ryan has a job in the community at McDonald’s and is the best french fry cook in the McDonald’s system.
If you’ve ever visited a busy McDonald’s restaurant over the noon hour you know how fast and furious the employees are working to get food cooked and out to customers. Having someone there to make sure the french fries are always cooked and ready for waiting orders is vital during the hectic noon rush.
Ryan works two to three hours a day keeping up with the french fries. Focusing on just one part of a job helps Ryan be successful. To his co-workers Ryan is more than the french fry cook. They like him. They’re teaching him Spanish. And Ryan is helping them to understand that people with disabilities can contribute and make a difference in the workplace.
“I like it when there is a lot going on. At my group home we sometimes go to plays, go swimming and on the weekend go to the lake house. And I really like coming to work.” Ryan has found his way along the path and it has led to his work place in the community.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Job Development

Job seekers focus their efforts on finding their future job. AtWork! Employment Consultants, using their knowledge of the job applicant and the information developed during the Discovery Step (see 9/1/09 Blog), approach employers on behalf of the individual being served.

A customized job is a set of tasks that differ from the employer’s standard job descriptions but are based on tasks that are found within that workplace. A customized proposal unties the tasks that exist in a workplace and makes them available to be rearranged in a customized job description. For example, the customized job may include only a subset of the tasks from one of the employer’s job descriptions or a mix of tasks taken from several existing job descriptions. It may include new tasks that are not currently being performed but that fill a need for the employer. The customizing process often causes the employer to think of existing tasks in a new way.


A carved job is based on tasks derived from a single traditional job in an employment setting. The carved job description contains one or more, but not all, of the tasks from the original job description. Example: The individual assessment showed that the individual has skills to do filing and he has a strong desire to be a police officer. To meet both the individual's needs and employer's needs a carved job was negotiated within a county sheriff's department that incorporates tasks of organizing and filing misdemeanor arrest reports and traffic citations.


A negotiated job is one in which all the tasks of the work setting (tasks contained in more than one job description) are available for selection to form a new, individualized job description.


Example: After working in a crew doing evening janitorial work, a worker told his crew director that he wanted a job where he could wear nice clothes, didn't have to clean after other people, and could work around other people. He liked people but never got to see them in his current job. A job working in a department store was negotiated for the individual that combined duties from several departments. Only one part of the job involves maintenance and support activities. Additional duties involve helping the advertising department put up and take down the huge number of weekly ads, helping the furniture department manager rearrange the furniture department, uncrating merchandise in the electronics department and loading merchandise in cars for people at the stock room pick up.



Sometimes a job is created from unmet needs in the employer’s workplace. This leads to a new job description based on unmet needs of the employment setting. Example: An individual who is a wheelchair user enjoys people and wants to perform delivery tasks. A branch office manager of an insurance company was receiving frequent complaints that faxes were not being delivered to agents in a timely manner by the fax room clerk. Agents needed the faxes pulled from the fax machine and hand delivered promptly. The job description for the clerk in the fax room involved copying, mailroom responsibilities, and handling the fax machine. Carrying out those responsibilities did not leave time to hand deliver the faxes. The individual was able to meet this genuine employer need through a created job description for delivering the faxes.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bob’s Discovery Path


Bob is a person with limited mobility due to quadriplegia who enjoys working with computers. He came to AtWork! right from high school, about 15 years ago. Bob’s father, Doug, has created a personalized interface that allows Bob to interact with a computer. He manages all of his interactions through the use of a head switch on his power wheel chair.

His computer skills have developed over time as computers have changed and his Dad has been involved in creating interactive programs to meet Bob’s needs. When the internet became accessible, Bob’s world really opened up. The latest version of Bob’s special interface has given him the opportunity to work as a volunteer with a local non-profit, FISH at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

To accomplish this task, Bob first learned Excel. He is creating a database for FISH that records information about presentations that are made at the hatchery: the presentation, the audience (schools, organizations, government groups) the number of participants, etc. This data will be used to design future presentations. In the past FISH educational staff kept track of these statistics in a handwritten ledger which made it less accessible. Bob’s contribution has very real practical value to FISH.

Bob’s ultimate dream is to move out of the workshop into a job that matches his talents. He is a very positive and engaging individual with much to offer and would like a paid position utilizing his computer skills where he can add value to a business.

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