14 Feb Mission Minute: Creatively Finding the Right Fit
The Core Value of Creativity is exemplified when we explore business and human issues in an imaginative and flexible way. Creativity at New Hope of Indiana is as diverse as the individuals and families we serve. It comes in many forms including in the creative problem-solving of our associates and the development of our programs.
According to labor statistics, in 2017, only 18% of persons with disabilities were employed, with an even lower rate of only 10% of individuals with developmental disabilities, in the workforce. In contrast, 65% of persons without a disability were working that year. The difference is staggering. Yet there is a fundamental desire and significant need for employment within that population. Looking for opportunities to expand our mission of serving persons in need, New Hope began offering Vocational Services in the summer of 2015, and it has since grown to include two associates, Patrick Mitchell and Miguel Garcia Guzman.
Once referrals are received through the state Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the employment exploration process begins, first and foremost, with identifying the type of work an individual desires. Discovery is key. Patrick and Miguel complete an extensive profile of clients to identify interests, likes, dislikes, challenges and perhaps even their dream jobs. The profile provides essential information to begin a search for potential employers and jobs. Next, informational interviews are often set up with potential businesses and employers. If the client is involved in the initial meeting, this provides a great opportunity for Patrick and Miguel to observe interactions, assess skills and give feedback prior to the actual job interview. Tours of potential workplaces and job shadowing experiences are also very helpful in this process. There is commitment to searching for and finding the right job fit for clients, which requires creativity, determination, perseverance, confidence and patience for all involved.
Historically, available jobs for individuals with disabilities were primarily within the fast food industry and, certainly if desired, still occur. Thankfully, job possibilities are now limitless, but they require imagination, time-consuming research, networking and advocacy. Through our Vocational Services program, New Hope has assisted in placing job seekers with disabilities at Anthem, Shoe Carnival, Target, Applebee’s, Urban Outfitters, Milliman and many other employees. One client is even working as the Assistant Activities Director at a local healthcare facility. Networking and establishing relationships are vital to this program. While there may not be an available position at the time of the informational interview or tour, a job opening might arise at some point in the future. Even one year after meeting Patrick, an employer recently contacted him about an available position. Whether or not one of our clients is a good fit for their available position, it’s still a valuable and powerful connection in our community.
In this Year of Creativity, we salute our Vocational Services program and its associates for their resourcefulness and dedication in assisting individuals with their employment goals!