Feb 24, 2023
Several years ago, Tom was referred to Goodwill’s Work Readiness program in by HealthWest in an effort to develop his employability skills. By working at Goodwill’s Industrial Services Work Center — performing light industrial tasks such as sorting and packaging — Tom was acclimated to the work environment and enjoyed learning new skills and working with others.
With the support of Goodwill staff, Tom transitioned to Goodwill’s Supported Employment program in August of last year, and is now an ACE (Ability Centered Employment) Team Member of Goodwill’s work enclave partnership with local furniture manufacturer, MillerKnoll. A work enclave is group of supervised workers with disabilities who are transported to the employer’s work site for a fully community-integrated work experience.
Before coming to Goodwill, much of Tom’s time was spent at home due to several challenges including cognitive impairment and physical disabilities. While he enjoyed being at home, he wanted to “learn to work hard, meet new friends, and make some money.” Goodwill answered Tom’s call. Goodwill provided Tom with a safe workplace which provided work skills training, social coaching, and job-readiness skills to help him successfully make the transition to working at MillerKnoll.
Tom enjoys the heat-sealing part of his job at MillerKnoll the most, but is efficient at all of his tasks, and is developing his attention to quality. According to Tom’s Goodwill Job Coach Lori Willson, “Tom has always been quick on the various jobs, but accuracy was an issue at the beginning. He wanted to fly through the tasks as quickly as possible,” she said. “Tom has learned how to slow down and really make sure the job is done correctly.” According to Willson, Tom is incredibly coachable and really listens to instruction. “He gets his own parts for the jobs, and always asks if he isn’t sure where a part is located,” she said.
Tom says his life has changed considerably for the good since starting Goodwill programming. He makes his own money now and can buy his own clothes and snacks. Work gives him a sense of purpose. His advice for others: “Work hard every day,” he said. “Learn how to get your own parts and go to work happy.” According to Willson he walks the talk. “He comes into work happy every single day and always works very hard.”
Tom is grateful to Goodwill for helping him learn good work skills.
For those with a goal of employment in the community, this time-limited training program provides individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities an employment preparation opportunity that includes: paid vocational training, basic skill building, community based education, and volunteer opportunities, based on the individual’s service plan and their specific needs.
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.