Thursday, October 8, 2009

Each exploration brings Josh closer to inclusion in the workforce

Josh is always smiling and happy to be involved. He uses a wheel chair, and has limited communication and motor skills. Josh came to AtWork! at age 21 right out of high school to participate in the sheltered workshop, although there were very few jobs that allowed him to be productive. One or two community volunteer opportunities were tried but turned out to not be a good fit for his talents. Josh sometimes works in his parent’s business, riding along as a carpool buddy which allows for faster deliveries using the area’s carpool lanes.

This summer, Josh once again tried out a volunteer opportunity, this time at Hopelink’s food bank in Bellevue. He prepares what his coworkers call “homeless bags”: rolled disposable silverware wrapped in a plastic baggy. In order to assist him with the physical part of placing silverware into a narrow baggy, Josh’s job coach supplied him with a large plastic cup. With this small reasonable accommodation, Josh is able to perform 90% of the task independently. Often it takes a very simple adaption to provide a working environment that takes best advantage of a person’s talents and skills. Josh has now found another task at the food bank that he can perform, breaking down commodities that come in bulk to individual proportions. By placing a box at the right height near his chair, Josh is able to scoop up oat cereal into a plastic bag inserted into that same plastic cup, pull out the full bag, and with some help tying the bag closed, put it in a bin ready for distribution to food bank clients.

Josh enjoys life and enjoys people. His co-workers at the food bank are always glad to see him and value his contribution. He has purpose several days a week, and is helping others who have needs. He is exploring other opportunities through AtWork!’s job training classes, shredding documents in the paper shredder and becoming acquainted with computers. Each exploration brings Josh closer to the day when his talents and skills will match the needs of an employer, the say when Josh finds community inclusion in the work force.

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