Evergreen Service Providers exists to help Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities thrive in their personal lives, which includes being a part of their local communities. For some of the Individuals we serve, that includes working at a job. We’d like to introduce you to two of our Individuals who work and share the difference having a job can make.
Michael is quite industrious and actually works two jobs – several hours a day, four days a week – and was excited to tell his story. One of his jobs is at TJ Maxx where he works two days a week and provides a variety of services – cleaning, putting things away and collecting carts from the parking lot. He has been working there since before Christmas 2017. He also works at Hilton Hotel two days a week and has been a part of their team for more than a year. He works primarily in the laundry – a critical service for a hotel and its guests. And he’s independent enough to ride the bus to work.
Michael shared how he enjoys working at both places. He likes his bosses, and especially enjoys being around friendly people and helping customers. He also feels good about earning his own money, which enables him to buy things and do things he enjoys. Michael uses some of his earnings to participate in sports like bowling, softball and flag football.
Chadkaron, Michael’s Host Home Provider, has observed significant positive changes in Michael in the three years he has been with her family, some of which she attributes to working at his jobs. She shared that when he first came to live with her he was not comfortable conversing or going into public places like restaurants, and had difficulty trusting. But her entire family made a commitment to Michael, and as she expresses it, “There is a big team here for him.” Now, she added happily, Michael is a part of their family and knows that their home is his. He speaks up about his wants and needs and feels comfortable going into a store on his own to get what he needs. Interactions at work have helped him open up and engage with others, his job makes him happy. Earning his own pay check has built his self-esteem and gives him a sense of independence.
Bruce is another Individual who is employed and has worked at his current job for almost four years. He’s a dishwasher at a locally owned, community restaurant where he works on weekends. One of the best things about his job, according to Bruce, is that he gets to meet and talk to new people. He also likes his fellow employees, especially the cooks who he describes as “cool” and says that their good sense of humor is important to him. The benefits are something he appreciates – breakfast and lunch each day that he works, which includes fare such as omelets, waffles, pork chops, and steak. Bruce recognizes that he sometimes feels stressed and shared that washing dishes helps alleviate stress. Getting out of the house and earning his own money are important to Bruce. Some of his earnings went towards a trip to Mexico last year with Gregory, his Host Home Provider. Of his work, Bruce commented, “I like my work. It’s very fun.”
Gregory sees the many positives that come from Bruce’s employment. He echoed that Bruce enjoys his job and the interaction it affords with customers and other employees – and added that they all like Bruce. According to Gregory, “It gives Bruce a sense of worth to have his own money and buy his own things. Bruce is a very independent young man.”
As a result of working, Michael and Bruce have built self-esteem and cultivated an attitude of valuing themselves. In addition, they contribute to their communities through their jobs. And that’s not just about the services they provide – it’s also about engaging with customers and fellow employees, which benefits both these Individuals and those with whom they come in contact. They have become unintentional ambassadors for IDD Individuals everywhere, demonstrating that it is about WHO they are, and not about their disability. Michael and Bruce are perfect examples of Evergreen’s hope and vision for the Individuals we serve. We applaud them, along with their Host Home Providers, for their accomplishments.