Mill Levy-Funded Program Helps Individuals with I/DD Enter Workforce
Writing a resume, searching for job openings, interviewing and navigating the hiring process – These are daunting tasks for anyone entering the workforce for the first time, but they can be an absolute barrier to employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), like Gloria Fobb.
Gloria knew she wanted to find meaningful employment, but she needed some help with the first steps. That’s where the Supported Employment Collaborative (SEC) came in.
SEC is a collaboration between Goodwill Industries of Denver and Jewish Family Service Colorado: Shalom Denver that seeks to narrow the employment gap for individuals with I/DD. The program receives mill levy funding from Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) to help Denver residents navigate the enrollment process with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and offer customized assessment, pre-vocational training, individualized person-centered job placement and on-the-job support.
Employment levels of people with disabilities are low, even in this strong economy. In 2017, less than 19 percent of people with disabilities were employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was nearly 66 percent.
SEC not only supports individuals with I/DD; it works with Colorado businesses interested in building a skilled, qualified workforce. SEC helps find candidates for openings at no cost to the businesses.
Gloria’s journey to competitive employment began several years ago at the SHALOM Denver prevocational center. When she was ready to seek competitive employment in the community, she began working with SEC staff, including SHALOM Denver job developer Leah Wing. We worked with Gloria to write a resume and cover letter and prepare for an interview, Leah said. Gloria and her job developer also put together a photo resume packet with photos of her skills, including vacuuming and folding towels. The packet also included graphics that represented what she felt were her best qualities: her ability to make friends easily and listen well, and her commitment to working hard.
In the meantime, Leah began networking with employers to find openings where Gloria could thrive professionally. Through this effort, Gloria landed an interview at Courtyard by Marriott in Cherry Creek. She studied her photo resume and practiced her interview introduction repeatedly, even as she arrived in the hotel parking lot for the interview.
Because of her hard work, she aced the interview with the Human Resources director, completely and appropriately demonstrating why she would be a good fit for the position of laundry attendant.
She got into the car afterward and said, “I did it! My mom is going to be so proud. I did it!”
A job coach continues to work with Gloria to navigate some of the tricky social nuances of a new job, like when she can take a break, when it’s acceptable to chat with coworkers, and how to navigate transportation needs with Access-a-Ride.
Leah said Gloria has gained confidence professionally and taken pride in each and every milestone, like receiving her work uniform.
“SEC partnered with Gloria to turn the goal of competitive, integrated employment into a reality,” Leah said. “Now, she’s part of a team at the Courtyard by Marriott that values the skills and charisma she brings to the job.”
Also, learn more about mill levy-funded community agencies and the services available to Denver residents with I/DD. RMHS is accepting applications for 2019 mill levy-funded projects. The deadline for applications is Nov. 16, 2018. Learn how to apply.