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General Manager of Mrs E's

“They take the job seriously and do a good job,” Mr. Maranell said of his employees with developmental disabilities.

 


 

General Manager of Mrs E'sNow Mr. Riddle, who has Autism, mild Intellectual Disability and Schizophrenia, is working a 40-hour week, has health insurance through the company, a 401(k) savings plan, and profit sharing.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

Tony Schwager, who teaches shop at Baldwin High School, said the long term goal of Anthony’s Beehive is financial independence for his son.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

“I’m right in there with everybody else” could be said to be Colin Olenick’s life theme. “With a little bit of what I’d call ‘unorthodox help,’ I’ve been able to achieve much.”


 

 

 

 

Employment1st.org is funded by the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities (KCDD). Design by Lawson Phillips Associates. Stories by Tim Hoyt. Photography by Lawson Phillips. Publication design by Arthur McCash and Lawson Phillips.

Patty at WorkJob Coach Patty Waters keeps photographs of many of the clients she has worked with over 15 years on the job. She photographs clients after they have found successful employment, using the hundreds of photos as an incentive to new clients.

Picking up one of several photo albums she keeps by her desk, she points to various photographs:

“There’s Suzanne at Fazoli’s, Tim at Dillons, Marsha at Olive Garden, Leah at Sharp Line,” she says as she leafs through the album. “And there’s Paul at the bowling alley. He cleans shoes.“

Ms. Waters said she keeps the photos to show to new clients looking for employment.

“They show our clients they also can be successful in the community,” she said.

Ms. Waters is a Job Coach at KETCH in Wichita, an agency that provides support for people with developmental disabilities, including employment services. About 80 percent of clients looking for employment at KETCH have cognitive disabilities.

Job Coaches work directly with clients after the client starts a job, bringing  added support by helping him or her learn the job. After the client learns the job, Job Coaches return to the work site twice a month to make sure things are going well, and also come in when job duties are changed or added.

Many of the photographs in Ms. Waters’ albums also document the monthly “Job Club” KETCH holds for successful clients during summer months. This is another incentive for new clients to gain community employment success: get a job and join the Job Club. .

Activities for the KETCH Job Club have included trips to go bowling, to the movies, and baseball games, to war memorials, and out to dinner. They even had a trip to city hall to advocate against the proposed elimination of Saturday bus service.

Ms. Waters said they were successful in helping keep Saturday bus service.

“Most of my clients ride the bus,” she said. “So many people have to have it just to get to jobs or go grocery shopping,” she said.

Stephen Shaughnessy, director of employment and day services at KETCH, said the Job Club was originally set up as an incentive for clients in their search for competitive employment, something extra they earn by gaining employment. But he said over the years, it has turned into a fun event for everyone.

“We have clients coming to the Job Club who have been in jobs for 12, 15 years,” he said. “It gives people the opportunity to socialize.”

Ms. Waters stressed that being open with clients and learning the client’s employment preferences is important. She said Job coaches at KETCH get to know the client before working with the client on the job site.

“We make sure that it is not the first day on the job that the client meets the Job Coach,” said Ms. Waters, pointing out she always works to be open and friendly with clients. “A lot of this job is if you have a certain personality. You know attitude is everything.”

Ms. Waters emphasized that it takes a team effort to find employment for people coming to them for help. She said she works closely with case managers and counselors at Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the agency that refers clients to KETCH. She also coordinates with Employment Training Specialists at KETCH who work with local businesses to find employment openings for clients.

“We all work together for the good of the client,” Ms. Waters said.

In her years as a Job Coach, there are very few jobs Ms. Waters hasn’t helped clients learn in Wichita. She said just driving through town brings back memories of working with many different clients. She mentioned working with people in restaurants, pizza shops, nursing homes, car dealers, uniform companies, pet stores, grocery stores, and hotels.

“I’ve been there,” she said of the ‘driving down the road’ memories. “I’ve done that job.”

As Ms. Waters worked with clients at a business, she sometimes gets an offer.

“There’s been a few times, they’ll say ‘hey, do you want a job too? We’ll hire you.’”