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Goodwill's Supported JobsPlus Program Provides Opportunity For A Local Graduate With A Disability

Jake, a soon-to-graduate high school senior with a disability, was looking for an opportunity to succeed and be an integral part of a “work family.” His high school job was working at a grocery store, where his job was primarily to gather the carts from the parking lot and bring them back into the store. Jake liked this job but he wasn’t getting enough hours. Jake’s parents knew about Goodwill’s Supported JobsPlus program and the job opportunities that Goodwill provides for people with disabilities. Jake’s mom took him to Goodwill, where he applied for a job and met with the Mission Employment program manager.

Jake’s mom helped the program manager understand the things that were harder for Jake: he wasn’t comfortable with socializing, he didn’t always know how to take initiative on tasks, sometimes he had trouble focusing, he needed a little extra time to learn new tasks and if he was bored, it was easy for him to get off-task. The program manager promised to work with the leadership team at Jake’s store to ensure he had what he needed to be successful. Before he knew it, Jake was a Goodwill team member.

At Goodwill, Jake worked part-time on the sales floor. He was assigned a GoodPartner Coach, who helped him set goals and helped him with the training modules on the computer. He also got a lot of hands-on training with store leadership and his co-workers.

The leadership team at the store worked hard to find challenging tasks that would keep Jake focused and interested. They also made sure that he felt like part of the family. They made it a point to ensure he was not eating alone at lunchtime and they pushed him – just a little – to have more than one-word conversations with co-workers. Over time, Jake began feeling more relaxed at work and he enjoyed being around his co-workers. Jake was becoming more and more sociable.

At first, Jake’s supervisor gave him one- or two-step tasks to complete. Eventually, he was able to handle more complex tasks. Now Jake knows how to rotate apparel and wares by removing items according to the color of the week, and makes sure that he always has the Z-Rack parked parallel next to him so customers don’t trip and fall.

At Jake’s store, co-workers select a team member to recognize when that employee has done something good or creative. Team members are recognized only on days the team makes a budget. Recently, Jake received the award because he had been consistently focused on his job and on-task. Every time leadership observed Jake out on the floor, it was clear that he was very much engaged with his job duties.

Jake’s co-workers are happy that he is part of the team and Jake is glad that, despite any challenges he might have, he works at a place where he has the opportunity to succeed and to be an integral part of his “work family.”

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