Client Success Stories
Bob is an Issaquah resident and AtWork! client who came to our workshop more than 15 years ago, straight out of high school. Bob has what some would say are significant challenges – he has quadriplegia, uses a wheelchair, and does not speak verbally. He uses a computer interface, custom-created by his father, to communicate through the use of a head switch on his power wheel chair. Many people would make the assumption, based on Bob’s physical appearance and apparent disabilities, that he would not be capable of, or perhaps even interested in, work. However, Bob is not someone to be hindered by what most people would consider practically insurmountable disability.
Bob has always had an interest in computers and a desire for work. His computer skills have developed over time, and his father, Doug, has been involved in creating interactive programs to meet Bob’s needs. The latest version of Bob’s custom interface has given him the opportunity to work as a volunteer with FISH, at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Bob has been creating a database for FISH that records information about each presentation made at the hatchery including: the presentation date, the audience (schools, organizations, government groups), the number of participants, etc. This data is being 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, which has been demonstrated by them recently hiring Bob on in a part-time paid position.
In addition, Bob has secured a second job, with a Washington based call center provider, Direct Interactions. Direct Interactions has hired Bob to do customer service quality reviews of recorded calls. He works from an office in Issaquah, listening to recorded phone calls and answers a series of questions to ensure that Direct Interactions’ customers are receiving the highest level of customer service.
Bob is a true AtWork! success story. Through his determination, the work of his AtWork! Employment Consultant, and the support of his father, Bob has not one but two paid community jobs in the worst economic employment conditions possible.
Ken came to AtWork! after a 16-year career at Siemens, where he had been on a team that was manufacturing ultrasound equipment. When his job was eliminated due to automation, he came to our Packaging & Assembly business, where he has been for more than 10 years.
In that time, Ken has had a number of work trials to try and find him a good fit for another job in the community. He has worked in print shops and at computer stores, but when AtWork! partnered with USArchive & Imaging to create USArchive Powered by AtWork!, his EC saw the perfect opportunity for Ken. He spent several months in a work trial, learning the scanners and other machines. He learned office tasks like filing and sorting, and even learned how to repair and maintain the copiers and scanners.
His EC learned of an opportunity in a local copier company, Copy Tech Inc. Through forming a relationship with their office manager, she learned that Copy Tech had tons of office tasks that the office manager was simply too busy to do. The EC proposed that Ken join the Copy Tech team as an administrative assistant, helping out with the office tasks and building his knowledge of the machinery.
Ken is flourishing at Copy Tech. The stable, routine office environment is perfect for him. He has mastered the complex filing system. He has learned how to handle simple maintenance and repair tasks on the office machines, so the office manager no longer needs to rely on busy techs to repair her machinery. Ken is doing so well that his EC has already faded back to check-ins only, and they are considering expanding his duties into parts and inventory.
This success story shows the value social enterprises bring to AtWork!. By providing people we serve with the opportunity to develop and practice new skills, our social enterprises are giving them valuable experience that they can use to move into integrated employment.
Janice is an individual who had a long path to community employment. Janice was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that results in near-constant and uncontrollable hunger, as well as some cognitive difficulties. Janice understands her disorder, and made it clear early in her relationship with her EC that it would be easier for her if she had a job where there was no food anywhere near. Since many entry-level jobs tend to be either in food-service, or in areas where food-service is readily available (such as supermarkets), finding a job for Janice where easy access to food was not possible was a significant challenge.
After several years of exploring various options, it became clear that Janice is a very capable individual, with good organizational skills and attention to detail. Her EC found her an opportunity at the Pelage Spa and Skin Center in Gillman Village. Pelage needed someone to do the daily tasks of organizing and preparing their treatment rooms and the baskets that each guest receives with their robe, sandals, etc. They needed someone to handle the large volume of laundry generated by the various massages, facials, and other treatments provided by the spa, as well as someone to clean and organize the retail product area.
Not only was the job a perfect fit for Janice’s attention to detail and ability to handle more complex tasks, but Pelage had the added bonus of being located in a section of Gilman Village that was not near a single restaurant, cafe or coffee shop. Janice is increasingly independent in her job, and has increased her self-confidence since finding a well-matched community job.
Daniel and David
These brothers have been with AtWork! for more than 30 years. They worked for Custom Industries Janitorial Services for almost 20 years until it closed in the 90′s, at which point they transferred in to the Recycling Center and Packaging & Assembly divisions.
Both men were successful and happy working in janitorial services, and they liked having similar jobs and working together. However, when the time came to find integrated employment, their EC felt that each would better succeed on his own.
Given their desire to return to their “heyday” in janitorial, the EC found an opportunity at Juanita Collision Center through an acquaintance of the owner. She set it up so that Daniel would come in at the end of the mechanics’ shift and sweep up the debris, dust, broken parts and more that often covered the floor. He clears and puts away the various tools left out, and breaks down and recycles the empty boxes that parts and supplies are shipped to the shop in. As a result, the mechanics are able to work much more efficiently, there is less re-work that has to happen due to dust contamination, and the shop in general looks much nicer. Daniel has worked there since December 2010.
Daniel’s placement was so successful that his EC decided to use her experience there to open a door for David at Woodinville Auto Body. Soon David was also helping to keep a shop floor clean and clear of debris. The brothers are happy because they are doing the janitorial work they love, and their jobs are similar enough that they can come home from work and talk about their day.
Scott lives in North Seattle in his own apartment and works five days a week. Scott is a man with Autism.
Scott has received services from AtWork! for more than 20 years, first as a production worker at the Kenmore facility and then as a recycling crew worker at the Issaquah Recycling Center. In January 2006, he got his first community job at The University Bookstore in the U District, cleaning the break room and restrooms, vacuuming the computer store, washing windows, and collecting the recycling. Since that time, his job duties have evolved, and he is now almost solely responsible for keeping the parking lot clean and free of litter. He commutes to work using Seattle’s Metro Transit. Thanks to his community employment, Scott is able to continue to live independently.
Scott uses his income to pay for community outings like swimming, having coffee and attending movies with friends. He also loves languages and conversation and buys language tapes.
According to Scott’s EC, what has made Scott’s employment with the University Bookstore particularly successful has been their engagement in and support of Scott. His managers have taken a proactive stance on building a circle of support for Scott, and have shown initiative in developing accommodations to make his work there successful.