Cooperation is a key to success. DES divisions regularly work together to provide services and supports for Arizonans in need. A prime example of this cooperative work is demonstrated by the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and the Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services (DERS).
For five years, DDD member, JC, participated in DDD’s Employment Services program. He was a participant of several DDD teams who were paired with a job coach to work for various employers. This experience helped the team members learn basic job skills, such as getting to work on time, working with others, and taking directions, which ultimately helped JC in his quest for competitive employment.
It started during a routine visit by Jennifer, JC’s former Support Coordinator. JC’s mother, Evelyn, said Jennifer would visit JC every three months to conduct a wellness check and document his achievements. During one visit, Jennifer suggested JC tap into one program administered by the DERS Vocational Rehabilitation Services Administration.
A VR counselor “came out and talked to him to find out what he wanted to do, what his abilities were,” said Evelyn. Referred by his DDD Support Coordinator, JC met with Maria Hadnot, a VR employment counselor. Maria noted JC’s particular requirements, such as the number of hours he wanted to work each week, and his need for the workplace location to be near where he lives.
Maria connected him with Darlene Barr of the New Horizons Empowerment Center in Havasu. Since then, JC’s life has taken a turn towards increased productivity and independence.
“Being his job coach, we started at the beginning,” said Darlene. The next steps are specific to the individual. “Each client is different. [JC] was very easy. We built his resume, and I found out where he’s worked before, and how much he can work. We built a cover letter together. Then, we did a job search together. I helped him set up an email account [because] many applications are submitted online. Basically, he got snatched up by Goodwill within the first week that I was working with him.”
“Right now, I’m working at Goodwill,” said JC. “I sort through donations and grade all the clothes when they come in,” which includes inspecting clothes for holes or stains. JC has been with Goodwill since November 11, 2020.
Typically, a VR job coach would provide on-site job training, but in JC’s case, Goodwill showed him the ropes of sorting and grading donations.
As for his work attitude, Darlene says, “He’s very kind and customer service [oriented]. Definitely a great team member. He’s definitely a pleasure to have.”
It’s easy to take advantage of the job training, resume writing and interview skills preparation services offered by DES. Kelly Thomas, DDD Employment Rehabilitation Representative, encourages DDD members to talk with their Support Coordinator during one of their quarterly Planning Meetings to discuss the member’s employment desires and objectives. Working together, DDD and DERS are sure to help others create new work skills and job opportunities.