Faces of Employment | National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Faces of Employment

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and IDHS is highlighting some of the employment success stories from our community partners across the state!

Success in the Workplace

Skyiler working at Happy Joe's Skyiler working at Happy Joe's

Submitted by: Sarah Wright, Director of Development & Communications, The Arc of the Quad Cities Area

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, The Arc of the Quad Cities Area sat down with some of the individuals who have been employed through their Community Employment Services program.

A few weeks ago they sat down with Skyiler, an employee at Happy Joe's, who has been working for over six weeks as a dishwasher. While he's happy with all aspects of the job, Skyiler's favorite part about working at Happy Joe's is the food, though he says the money isn't bad. Skyiler often gets praised for the good work he does. "He gets his dishes done early almost every day," says his boss Erin. "We're thrilled to have Skyiler here."

Skyiler describes himself as a good and helpful employee, and his coworkers agree. Even when faced with new and different tasks, Skyiler rises to the challenge and completes them with enthusiasm. Sue Liggitt, a job developer at The Arc, commented on Skyiler's abilities. "It's great to see that Skyiler has really grown since he came into our program. He's shown that he's independent and loves to work. He's succeeding." For Sue, there is nothing more worthwhile than seeing individuals succeed.

Andy's Story

Andy with Bill Walsh from Bill Walsh Automotive Group Andy working at Bill Walsh Automotive Group

Submitted by: John Mallaney, Executive Director, Streator Unlimited, Inc.

Andy was part of the RICES grant that was awarded to Streator Unlimited (SU) in 2008. It was a technical assistance grant that provided the agency extensive training in customized employment from Griffin/Hammis and Associates. Through the discovery process, SU staff were able to get to know Andy outside of his sheltered workshop job.

After getting to know Andy and realizing he was such a people-person, Andy was assisted in attending, and later joining the Kiwanis Club. It was there that he met Pete Honiotes, General Manager of Bill Walsh Automotive Group in Streator, IL. After touring the Bill Walsh Automotive Group and giving tours of Streator Unlimited to the automotive group employees, it was obvious that he had located the perfect working environment. Andy, a die-hard Cubs fan wanted to work for George, a die-hard White Sox fan.

For the past 10 years, Andy has worked in the parts department under the supervision of George Sharisky. He works Monday through Friday, 8:00am-12:00pm. If they are short staffed or need extra help, Andy works until 3:00pm. His days consist of checking-in all of the parts that arrive in the morning and organizes them by customer name, service department, or stocks them upstairs. He must locate the group number, locate its bin, and then chronologically organize them by its 8 digit part number. He stocks oil filters, batteries, keys, and spark plugs, pulls parts from their inventory and delivers them to the service department or the mechanics. He looks up part numbers in the computer system and conducts inventory several times a year and dispenses oil by the quart through a computerized system. Andy will also clean the department when needed and enjoys delivering mail to members of the team so that he can socialize with them.

Andy has made many natural supports and friends through his job. He has helped a coworker coach flag football and he watches ballgames and wrestling with another. He can be found texting with his coworkers about the scores of all the day's games and has participated in community events and parades that his employer puts on.

Andy's employer is very supportive of Andy. When Andy had a seizure that left him unable to work for two months, they kept in touch and welcomed him back as soon as he was medically released. Since he has had a seizure on the job, they have implemented a plan in the instance that Andy were not to be seen for a period of time. They have supported Andy's wishes of having his job coach still check in periodically. They work around family vacations and sporting events that he regularly attends.

Andy's employment is truly a win-win for all. Andy, his family, his job coach, his employer and his coworkers all agree that Bill Walsh and Andy were a perfect match.

Kristi's Story

Kristi has been working at Pampered Pets in East Dundee

Submitted by: Carrie Flynn, Certified Employment Support Professional, Association for Individual Development

Kristi has been working at Pampered Pets in East Dundee since August 26th of this year. She is a part time Pet Care Technician and her job duties are interacting with the dogs, monitoring dog play and cleaning up after them.

She is doing fantastic with the praise that the owner Sandy and manager Carrie have given. Stating, "She has a wonderful rapport with the animals and is able to care of up to 12 dogs at a time independently."

Kristi had been attending the Association for Individual Development Training Center in Elgin three days a week up until she obtained the opportunity of working at her "dream job". She has been known to say, "It's awesome, I get paid to hang out with dogs."