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As a former employee of Trillium Employment Services, REALTOR® Morgan Reay has some unique insight to share about this wonderful nonprofit agency. Previously, Morgan worked for Trillium in Kitsap County when she was a social worker. Serving Pierce, Kitsap, King, and Clark counties, “Trillium works with employers and job candidates with developmental disabilities to match business needs with the candidate’s skill set. This is referred to as supported employment,” shares Morgan. “Businesses benefit by adding diversity to their teams, and fulfilling unmet needs with reliable, hardworking, entry-level employees. Supported employees and the business receive a job coach from Trillium to assist with the employee’s onboarding to their new job and continued support as they gain independence,” elaborates Morgan. “This is at no cost to the employer. It’s rewarding to see both the supported employee and coworkers engage and become family. It’s great for the community to see that anyone can work when customers visit a business that has hired a supported employee!” While Morgan worked with Trillium, the Windermere on Bainbridge Island hired an adult with a developmental disability. “Windermere’s commitment in the community is what lead me to hang my license at Windermere Professional Partners,” says Morgan. “The supported employee’s birthday was celebrated, they were included on Windermere’s annual Community Service Day, and best of all, treated just like any other employee. It was a very inclusive environment.”
Monica’s Cafe in Silverdale, Washington has a diverse team keeping the busy flow of customers’ content. If you come in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Rachel may greet you with open arms and a large smile, easing you into the long line. Monica’s Cafe used Trillium’s services to recruit the niche position for her cafe —Trillium is a nonprofit serving Kitsap, Pierce, King and Clark county businesses who want to hire people with developmental disabilities.
Owner Monica Downen says, “We value hospitality, team work, and fun, as does Rachel, and with the support Trillium offers, it affirmed our goals to live a rich life and certainly personified our purpose.” Monica believes having a diverse team is helping to teach other staff how natural it is to work and personally interact with people who are differently-abled.
Monica was hesitant at first to hire someone for a position that didn’t already exist within her business. “My main concern was the money. We have a small business where the staff team needs to remain flexible and be able to perform multiple tasks, respond to customers and co-workers, and maintain a fast pace through much of the shift.” Monica felt that to hire, she would have to see them successfully perform tasks that she identified as being valuable to her business. Trillium Employment Consultant, Renee Lane, helped the businesses identify the tasks and then selected a candidate, Rachel, she thought would be a good fit. In order to optimize the experience for both Rachel and the cafe, Renee took video footage of other employees completing the tasks that would be part of the internship. Rachel and Renee watched those videos together before Rachel’s first day at her internship which prepared Rachel and reduced the training time from the business.
The internship was a success and since Feb 2017, Rachel has been responsible for stamping bakery bags, putting stickers on cups, prepping to-go boxes and washing dishes. Monica saw that having Rachel on her team is valuable to the business and the community. “Our customers come to us for an experience, and those who encounter Rachel generally felt that she is a wonderful part of the experience. She is exuberant and boisterous, generous and welcoming, and really good at hospitality,” says Monica. Monica’s Cafe experiences how the broader community embraces Rachel and how having her a part of the team is, “spreading goodwill for us within the community,” shares Monica. Recently, Monica’s Cafe was awarded “Business of the Year” by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce with recognition for the civic engagement her company represents. A fun tradition at Monica’s is that employees get a day named after them, so that each staff is celebrated. “Rachel’s Day” was in February; on her 1-year work anniversary her co-workers came together to make this a celebration of the all the wonderful contributions Rachel brings to the business.
When asked what made Monica shift from hesitant to hiring, she says, “I would inspire you to keep a more open mind and heart – keep open and immediate communication with Trillium and their Employment Consultants. If issues arise, confront them right away rather than letting them fester, and be ready to find creative solutions that you may not have considered before. In this way you will get the performance you need, meet your goals, and most likely open opportunities for other employees.”
The stats are in for 2017. The impact we have had on the community can be seen by the numbers. We have served 571 people, 199 people are job searching and 372 people are currently working. In May we identified that only 40% of employed clients were working their preferred hours. We set a bold goal that 60% of employed people will be working 75% or more of their preferred hours by December 2018. We currently have 72 people successfully increase their working hours. In 2017, Trillium had 130 job placements, with a job retention rate of 85% holding their jobs one year later. Thank you to our Trillium team for making this positive impact and helping to achieve these bold goals.
The Developmental Disabilities Ombuds has launched their website, making it easier for people to share concerns about services and facilitates and get resources.
We love our annual trip to Olympia to share stories of supported employment with legislators. This year dozens of clients met with nearly 40 legislators from 18 districts across Western Washington.
Legislators hear about businesses in their district that benefit from the diverse workforce and Trillium’s supports; job seekers show their video resumes hoping for a connection to a job; and of course we share our great appreciation for our state’s funding of supported employment.
We recently asked a number of our clients why working is important to them. Here’s what we found out:
“I want to work so that I can help my family pay bills. I also want to work because I love to go on vacation.”
– Madelyn W
“I work because I get out of the house, help people, make friends and make money. I make a living. Best Buy is a good job for me. They treat me with respect and my boss is very nice.”
– Jeremy O
“I love working with kids. I love seeing the kids’ faces light up.”
– Sabra Q
“It makes me feel like I am contributing to society and I don’t have to rely on people to buy me things. ”
– Kayla T
“Because it’s important to work your hardest and make your family proud.”
– Jamie H
“Work matters because I am making money, and my Mom and Dad are retired and I feel like I need to make money to support them, and because I like working. I like what I do. Otherwise, I’d just be doing nothing…and that would get boring after a while.”
– Tammi G
“I want to work because I want to save up money and go visit Jerusalem. I want to visit the Holy Land and explore a place sacred to my religion.”
– Eldon A
“I want to work so that I can see my favorite Broadway plays.”
– Michael W
“My favorite thing about working is making customers happy. I like seeing the looks on their faces when they get good service. ”
– Jared H
“For me, I think it shouldn’t be about disability. People should see us as capable. I want to make a living and not be on SSI or SSDI. I don’t want to be seen as ‘poor, helpless little me’.”
– Andrea P
“Having a job makes me feel independent. I pay my bills. I’m responsible. It makes me feel good, excellent. I like everything about my job.”
– Jason R
Every year, Trillium has the distinct pleasure to recognize several fantastic inclusive employers as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. These businesses exhibit excellent qualities and we want everyone to know about it! We’ve had various themes from year to year, selecting different aspects of what it means to be a true inclusive employer and selecting those that exemplify each aspect. This year, our King, Pierce and Kitsap County offices selected employers based on these three aspects: best new inclusive employer, the most inclusive workplace, and the most active advocate.
For some employers, hiring their first supported employee can be a bit intimidating. However, nearly all of them quickly realize and celebrate the newfound contributions and benefits! Some can’t wait to hire another, tell their peers about supported employment, or increase the hours and duties of their employee as soon as possible. The winners of the 2016 Best New Inclusive Employer are:
When it comes to fostering a healthy workplace environment, some employers take great consideration into the abilities, needs and cultures of their employees. These employers take action, and see to it that their employees feel welcome, included and valuable. The winners of the 2016 Most Inclusive Workplace are:
We at Trillium have found that one of the most effective means to help businesses overcome concerns about supported employment is to hear to it works from their peers. Several of the employers that partner with us are happy to share their experiences and how it has benefited their business, often in unexpected ways. These employers have encouraged other businesses to consider how supported employment can help their company achieve their goals. The winners of the Most Active Advocate are:
We are so pleased to announce these award winners and we thank them for all that they do for their supported employees and for building an inclusive workforce! Want to know where you can find these employers? Check out our Inclusive Business Finder!
It’s October! That means National Disability Employment Awareness month is here! It is during this month that we celebrate and congratulate the many individuals that have pursued their personal goals to be employed and earn a wage despite the hurdles they may face. We also recognize and thank the many employers who see through stereotypes and assumed limitations, who employ people based on their character and ability to perform the tasks they are given. So please take part throughout this month and thank a local inclusive employer. You can find them on our Inclusive Business Finder here, or by identifying them by their Inclusive Employer window decal at their storefront!
What better way to explain the results of Supported Employment than by sharing the experiences of one of our amazing inclusive employers! Papa John’s Pizza has been partnering with Trillium for years. We are grateful to work with several locations, and have a special place in our hearts for General Manager Charles Campbell. He recently presented us with this referral letter and asked that we share it with future employers:
Dear friends of Trillium and potential employers,
My name is Charles Campbell. I am currently a General Manager with Papa John’s Pizza and I manage a location in Kent. I have been with my company for going on 15 years and I have worked and held several different positions/roles within my company. I know my business well. I was recently approached by a job coach with Trillium and asked if I would be willing to write a testimonial that was based off my experience in working with both Trillium and their clients. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure if it was the pizza dust and flour that was stuck between my ears or if it was the number of pizzas I had to make at that very moment that caused me to ponder the thought for just a second. When I came to my senses I was elated. I got to thinking how excited I would be to share just a taste of all of the great things not only the clients but what Trillium has done for myself, my business and our community.
I have had the pleasure over the past two years to work with several of Trillium’s clients and job coaches. In each partnership my expectations were not only met but exceeded. In business consistency is important whether it’s the consistency built in your operations, service and product you provide or the consistency on the promise of excellence you expect your employees to deliver on a daily basis. The promise of excellence and superiority that your business lays the foundation to grow and build from. This is the attention and dedication you get from Trillium and their clients. The clients Trillium provide come to work eager and excited to go to work for you. In many cases their attendance and punctuation will even exceed that of some of your current employees. The clients bring joy and a smile to your business and on many occasions have been known to turn a bad day good for someone. The positive attitude and enthusiasm they bring is infectious and provides an upbeat and energetic environment. In my restaurant I have gotten to the point where I rely on them and the work I know I’ll get. I know and truly understand the work they do literally has the ability to positively affect the success of the entire week. The job coaches from Trillium are some of the nicest people you can imagine with huge hearts and always there if needed. Between the awesome hard working punctual clients and the job coaches of Trillium , the duo is the perfect match for any business looking for quality work and to be a part of their community while doing a great thing all at the same time.
It is my soaring recommendation to partner up and work with Trillium by hiring their clients. If I had the ability to share what the future of your company would entail and all of the ways your business would benefit from making the smart decision, you wouldn’t still be reading my testimonial. I would be absolutely delighted to share more about my personal experiences with anyone interested in asking.
General Manager Papa John’s Pizza
If you would like to contact Charles and get more information about his experience, please let us know and we will provide you with his contact information. Click here to find how to contact us!