Goodwill facilitates new job placement programWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After catching chickenpox as an adult and having half of her brain removed, Jeannine Dailey was expected to live the rest of her life in a nursing home never to realize her dream of owning a business. Through a new job placement program at the Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio, Dailey is getting that chance.
“I had to learn everything over again. I had to learn to walk again, talk again, start all over. They didn’t expect me to live and if I did, I’d be a vegetable,” Dailey said. “I never ever expected to be a teacher again, let alone open a business and have my dreams come true. I always wanted to open a mural painting business and this program is allowing my dreams to come true.”
Goodwill is participating in a statewide project aimed at creating customized employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) selected six groups, including Goodwill, to facilitate the Microenterprise & Customized Employment Demonstration Project (MCED) in Ohio. The project is funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and is designed to create new job placement programs for those with significant disabilities.
Instead of placing an individual in a job that is available, the new job placement process through MCED creates a customized job for the individual based on their passion, said Kathy LeRoux, Goodwill’s community employment services manager and MCED project manager.
Each job placement process is based around the individual and every participant receives his or her own community action team. The community action teams are made up of family, friends, community members and Goodwill employees who will all assist throughout the process, LeRoux said.
“They’ve made a lot of accommodations for me and my lack of eyesight. It’s just been amazing. And I have a very hard time with my memory and they come up with a lot of different ideas as far as taking pictures of everybody and putting their little bios down, so I can memorize them before meetings and such,” said Dailey, a former teacher and painter who is working within the program to establish her own business.
Once individuals are referred to Goodwill from their counselors at the RSC, they first participate in a discovery process.
“Through the discovery process we talk about their talents and their likes. Different things we could go with to pick out what would be the perfect employment for them,” LeRoux said.
Upon completion of the discovery process, an individual is paired with employers in the community to explore customized employment based on their abilities, or he or she is referred to small business development centers (SBDC) to create their own business.
“The first thing we do is help them write a business plan,” said Heather Bradley, president and CEO of the Flourishing Company, a SBDC involved in the program. “Explore what needs to go into place to support and sustain this business, because we want them to succeed. We’re looking at a couple of different things — the business itself, we’re looking at support structures they may have in their life and resources, we’re looking at how we can position this person for success …We’re looking to see how can we commercialize that for them.”
Becky Rader, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, works at Target, but is a sculptor in her free time. She is just beginning the first steps with the SBDC and hopes to sell her work in a kiosk at the mall.
“It’s painful having to reach. When I do [my sculptures], I don’t have to worry about feeling any physical pain,” Rader said.
Goodwill has 15 individuals participating in the MCED. While the demonstration project only runs through September 2011, Goodwill plans on continuing the program.
“We’re going to continue once we’re trained and we know everything, we don’t see a reason to go back to the old way of job placement. This is just a really neat new idea that will hopefully serve many more individuals,” LeRoux said.
Visit www.goodwillnwohio.com for more information.