Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AtWork! Advocate Looked Around and Saw Opportunity

In February Bob Strayhan, AtWork! Board Chair, and his wife Alta, moved into the Washington Square condominium complex in downtown Bellevue. He realized there might be opportunity for an AtWork! client to join the maintenance staff and talked with management about employing a person with a disability. They were open to the idea and worked with AtWork! staff to structure a position.

Haden interviewed in July for the position of Custodian. He had previous experience working in the AtWork! building maintenance enclave before that business was discontinued last summer. He was offered the position at Washington Square and began work on July 24th earning $11 per hour. He is on a work schedule of three six hour days per week. AtWork! employment consultant Rick Anderson worked closely with Haden during the interview process and his first three days of work coordinating with the Maintenance Supervisor, Sean Schwendler, his management staff, and the three other employed custodians. A strong circle of support has been developed with the employer and Haden’s parents to ensure success and progress during the regular 90 day new hire probationary period. After two weeks of employment Rick was able to fade from hands on job coaching to only a brief check-in with Haden and staff once a week.

Sean is very pleased with Haden’s performance and says he just checks in periodically during his shift via walkie-talkie. He has been given new job tasks in addition to his primary duty of dusting and polishing metal work on 52 floors in two towers. He has readily picked up window washing, vacuuming, and cheerfully takes on odd jobs as they come up, like outside landscape maintenance. He has learned to ride Metro to and from work and his home in Kenmore. Most of all, Haden enjoys his work, enjoys being independent and valued and proud of his accomplishment.

Thanks to Bob Strayhan, who looked around, saw opportunity and brought the parties together, another person with disabilities has found his place in the community as a tax payer, working and earning a pay check. Do you have an idea about an opportunity? Do you have a connection or contact who might be able to help the next person with a disability find that right fit? Comment on this blog, or send us an email. We’d like to hear from you.

posted by AtWork! at


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