Apr 21, 2021
Jordan was referred to Goodwill’s Employment and Training Center (ETC) in Holland, by Community Mental Health of Ottawa County, for the purpose of developing his job skills. Enrolled in Goodwill’s Work Readiness program, Jordan received paid skill building opportunities performing light industrial work outsourced from local businesses.
Jordan is a person with several conditions that had made it difficult for him in past experiences to be successful in securing community-based employment.
“I struggled a lot with my behavior issues where I was not always the nicest person,” Jordan said. “I struggled not setting people off on purpose.”
While working at the ETC, and under the guidance of his Goodwill Case Manager Matt Cashbaugh, Jordan also developed his social and communication skills. He was taught a variety of coping skills to shift his mindset, and improve his attitude and decision-making abilities.
“I used to be mean and struggle with being mature,” Jordan said. “But now I am more independent and nice, and people are willing to trust me. I have grown up to be a good worker and I have realized how to be an independent adult.”
As he progressed, Jordan acquired a strong desire to graduate into community-based employment and was enrolled in Goodwill’s Supported Employment program to assist him in that goal.
In 2020, Goodwill developed a partnership with Pangea Reptile, a local pet company that was looking for some help assembling reptile cages at their production facility. Matt and his team arranged for three ETC workers to be transported to Pangea to work three days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., accompanied and supervised by an on-site Goodwill job coach. Goodwill refers to these special community-based work arrangements with local manufacturers as “work enclaves.”
“Jordan was immediately excited about this new opportunity,” Matt said. “He’s been successfully working in the enclave at Pangea since August. He mostly works on substrate packaging which involves measuring and weighing out appropriate quantities of materials and sealing them.”
“I like how I get to do a lot of new tasks each time that I am there,” Jordan said. “It gives me some good exercise and helps build my stamina. I really like the Pangea employees and I get the sense that they care about me and the Goodwill crew a lot. We work really hard to make sure we meet their deadlines. I take my time and listen to everything that they say and I have a good attitude and am open to whatever they ask me to do.”
“Since working at Pangea Jordan has really taken responsibility for himself,” Matt said. “He is the de facto leader of the enclave group and is always willing to take on any task that Pangea asks of him. Pangea will usually seek out Jordan for special projects because of this willingness.”
Jordan still occasionally struggles with inappropriate reactions, but the frequency of his disruptive behavior has significantly decreased and he maintains good relationships with his coworkers.
I thank Goodwill for helping me to have this job and thank every staff person who worked so hard at making me working at Pangea a possibility,” Jordan said. “I really, really appreciate it.”
These programs are designed to provide psychosocial / vocational rehabilitation for persons with developmental disabilities and mental impairments who need facility-based training and employment services, or who choose not to seek community-based employment. Participants may select from paid vocational training, basic skill building, community-based education, and volunteer opportunities. Participants are referred from HealthWest, MAISD, local school districts, and other referral sources.
Targeted primarily toward people with developmental disabilities or mental impairment, this model of service provides one-on-one training and on-going support for a successful transition to community-based employment. The program combines community job development, job coaching, and long-term follow-up to maximize employment potential. Participants are referred through Michigan Rehabilitation Services.