Tuesday, April 19, 2011

AtWork! Honors Drugstore.com as Supporter of the Year

AtWork!’s relationship with Drugstore.com and ultimately Margaret’s employment began with old fashioned networking. An AtWork! staff person networking at an event, handed out his card and talked about opportunities for people with disabilities. Jim Cunningham of Drugstore.com happened to receive one of those cards. Thinking about his company’s success in hiring people with disabilities at its distribution center, he had the idea to find similar opportunities at company headquarters and gave AtWork! a call.

The first step was to test the skills of AtWork! clients using work trials - AtWork! clients did work for the company in a very controlled setting to see if the projects and tasks were a good fit. Clients performing work trials were exposed to an office environment in a high rise building giving them the opportunity to evaluate their own comfort in the work setting and their interest and skill in performing the job tasks. Over the course of a couple of months AtWork! clients and their job coaches came to Drugstore.com’s corporate offices in downtown Bellevue to package special kits, label, and attach price stickers.

AtWork! Employment Consultants conducted a workplace analysis with Jim and Brooke Newman of Drugstore.com looking for tasks that were necessary and would benefit the company that simply were not getting done. Several ideas emerged including cleaning break rooms, keeping conference rooms neat and orderly, delivering packages and stocking office supplies. Two or three AtWork! clients with skills that matched the job duties were referred and Margaret was chosen to try out the position.

Margaret proved to be the ideal candidate. She is a very hard worker. She is always happy and fits well into the company culture. Most importantly, she can do the required tasks well. Margaret has worked at Drugstore.com for over a year. Her job coach works with Jim and Brooke to find simple accommodations that keep Margaret productive, like an elevator key card that allows her to figure out which floor she needs to go to next, and timers in the break rooms that let her know it is time to move on to the next task. In the beginning the job coach was with her every hour she worked., By developing natural supports from her co-workers, her coach now only comes for half an hour a week, just to check in.

Margaret is a regular employee. She works two - three hour shifts a week, cleaning the break rooms and stocking the office supply cupboards. Soon, she may move to 3 days a week and add some other tasks to her list of responsibilities such as cleaning conference rooms or delivering packages. Margaret feels valued, she has co-workers that she likes and that like her, she has her own cubicle, she earns a paycheck, and contributes to the success of her employer.

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