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Ryan's TRAIL to employment

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Ryan began his journey to Independent Living in September of 2017. While learning the skills needed to live independently at home, an important part of this skill set is finding employment and maintaining that employment to sustain him self financially. Ryan entered the TRAIL Program in the middle of his OVR assessment. He had already participated in one assessment and was waiting for the second to be scheduled.  Due to the timeline of the TRAIL program and after waiting six months, all along playing phone tag with his OVR counselor, finding Ryan employment was becoming more urgent and important to his success. Liz and I started brainstorming about possible employment opportunities for Ryan circumventing OVR. We spoke with Ryan on several occasions discovering his likes/dislikes, where he saw him self employed and what tasks he saw him self performing. Through this process, we decided some form of construction or landscaping work would be his ideal.  When these ideas were brought up to Ryan he responded positively and was excited at the possibilities. I thought about the contacts and resources I had and first called my Aunt who owns Beaver Creek Farm Cabins on March 10th, 2017. This property requires significant outside upkeep. She liked the idea and was very receptive; however, this idea would not work due to unforeseen obstacles. I then contacted my cousin who is partners in an Arborist/landscaping business; Weaveson Arborist. At first he gave me the names of others in the field that focus specifically on landscaping due to not knowing if he had any part-time positions open. However, he called me back a few days later explaining that he had discussed this with his partner and they would welcome the help part-time performing odd tasks and general assistance. He asked that Ryan email him his resume. Ryan emailed his resume the evening of April 7th, 2017. An interview was scheduled for Tuesday April 11th. He prepared for the interview through role playing interviews and filling out an employment application. Liz and I accompanied Ryan to the interview. Ryan held his own with minimal prompting from us during the interview. Ryan was offered the job and he accepted the part-time position. Additionally, Ryan would be receiving transportation to and from work by his employer. Liz assisted him in filling out the W-4 paperwork. His first day of work was April 18th, 2017. Ryan enjoyed preparing for work by purchasing specific boots and attire required for his position, as well as an extra large lunch bag. Ryan’s job supports were provided by his employer, he would be working 1:1 with certain co-workers. Ryan has had a few obstacles while employed; however, his employer has adapted Ryan’s tasks to his skill level and has addressed concerns as they have come into play. Only one time has his employer contacted Liz or I with a concern. It was brought to our attention that Ryan had been calling off work multiple times a week. We brought this concern to Ryan’s supports coordinator and had a meeting with him to discuss what was causing these call-offs. Ryan has improved his attendance since. Ryan has benefited in multiple ways; both professionally and personally through employment. He has formed friendships and other natural supports while working there and has been included in many activities such as camping at Knoebles, going out to eat, and attending his boss’s wedding reception. We have seen Ryan’s self-confidence increase. Ryan continues to build on his skills, grow and sustain Independent Living.

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Ryan Wins

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Thrive

[caption id="attachment_1745" align="alignright" width="271"] Ryan with Representatives Tom Murt and Donna Bullock[/caption] Ryan Reaches for Competitive Employment This is the face of a man realizing a dream.  For as long as I’ve known Ryan, he has been talking about his desire to get a competitive job.  On September 27, 2017, this dream became a reality for Ryan.  On this day, supported by staff, he rode the train with two of his peers to the Capital building in Harrisburg to be a  guest messenger for the House of Representatives, Office of the Chief Clerk.  Each one had an opportunity to interview for the open messenger position.  Following the interviews each was introduced on the House Floor and met their representatives.  At the end of the day, Ryan was offered the position and happily accepted.  He will begin his job on October 16. Pennsylvania is an Employment First State which means everyone needs to be considered for competitive employment before going to a vocational training facility.  These changes in policy are what prompted Excentia to begin an Employment Department. The first Employment Specialist began the end of May and a second was added in August.   The goal of this department is that anyone who wants a competitive job, gets one.  Our focus is on Discovery, really getting to know the person, their abilities and interests. Then we look for an employer where we can customize a position that lines up with everything we’ve learned about the person. Support is given to both the individual job seeker and the employer in order to find a good match.  On going  job support and coaching is provided and then gradually faded as the employer  takes over the support role.  The job coach continues to be available to assist as needed. We are working to help individuals explore potential jobs, broadening their view of what they believe they are able to do.  Frequently, people with disabilities have been limited to greeter positions, janitorial and food service.  We believe people with disabilities have skills that can be used in a variety of settings.  Currently, Excentia participants are competitively employed in a number of non-traditional positions including an attorney’s office, an aborist and now the House of Representatives. If you happen to see Ryan, ask him about his new job.  He’ll be delighted to tell you all about it. If you are interested in learning more about our Employment First services, contact Donna Hornberger via email at dhornberger@ourexcentia.org

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