Employment Collaborative: A Cooperative Spirit to Community Employment

Summit DD believes in helping people of all abilities reach their full potential, one person at a time. Fortunately, we are not alone. Thanks to a collaborative spirit, an innovative program and engaged local businesses, a few more individuals are now on their way to reaching their individual goals of community employment.

“Once SD Myers contacted us about the open position, we used the provider collaborative to fill it,” shared Jan Dougherty, Community Supports & Development Manager from Summit DD.

Dougherty explained that Summit DD, working closely with the disability service provider community, created a collaborative to share information, contacts and leads about local job openings. The idea of the collaborative is to help people with disabilities find and obtain community-based jobs. The collaborative also hopes to increase awareness about the benefit of hiring people of all different abilities in the business community.

The program works by identifying an open position, which could come from a local business inquiry or through networking. First, the job description is shared with the providers involved in the collaborative. Next, providers work with individuals who may be interested in the job and assist them in creating a resume. After that, the process works just like any other interview and hiring process, once a person’s resume is submitted to the company with the open position. Finally, the company chooses candidates to interview. While Dougherty and her team can help coordinate the interviews with the companies, individuals and providers, it is up to the person being interviewed to land the job. Providers are there to support the job seekers by arranging transportation to and from the interview or even help them to prepare for the interview, if needed. If hired, they also support individuals through onsite job coaching.

“We were looking for a permanent part-time employee and an additional seasonal person,” explained Ashely Belding who works in the Human Resources department at SD Myers, one of the local companies who recently hired two individuals through the employment collaborative. Belding explained the they needed someone to work a swing-shift to help bridge the gap between the morning and afternoon shift. Additionally, they needed some extra help during their busy time of the year. As it turned out, the job duties and hours were a great fit for their two new hires, Michael and Brad. “It’s a win-win,” she continued.

The benefit of the collaborative program went far beyond scheduling. Not only did SD Myers find two qualified recruits in the process, but Summit DD also offered diversity training to current staff in the organization.

As Belding predicted, both employees were embraced by their new coworkers and immediately became part of the team. “Just like everyone, people are different,” shared Brad and Michael’s supervisor, Brittany Ruehs, about her new employees’ personalities. “Brad is everyone’s best friend and very outgoing, while Michael is more of an introvert. However, both Michael and Brad are self-starters.”

Belding also shared that, like all new hires, Brad and Michael receive on-the-job coaching and reviews through the company. She envisions the new partnership with Summit DD will continue into the future whenever they have a need. Beyond that, they found additional ways to partner with Michael and Brad’s service provider, Community Connections NEO to benefit job seekers.

“It’s been a positive experience all across the board,” Belding commented about the relationship between SD Myers, Summit DD and Community Connections. “We are working on additional ways to work with Community Connections; such as job shadowing, tours of the plant and mock interviews.” Belding shared that ultimately, the company wants to help offer exposure to different types of jobs and hone additional interview skills for people.

Currently, there are almost two dozen provider partners working with Summit DD and more an 20 local businesses. Dougherty shared that the collaborative welcomes new providers and employers.

Dougherty summed up the initiative saying, “We work with qualified job candidates to help fill open positions. It’s that simple.”

Want to learn more?

Are you a local business looking for dependable job recruits? Contact Jan Dougherty at JDougherty@SummitDD.org or call 330-634-8171.

Are you a provider looking to get involved in the employment collaborative? Contact Jan Dougherty at JDougherty@SummitDD.org or call 330-634-8171.

People from Community Connections touring SD Meyers for potential employment.People from Community Connections touring SD Meyers for potential employment.People from Community Connections touring SD Meyers for potential employment.Brad working at SD Meyers.Brad working at SD Meyers with his Community Connections job coach.

Get Inspired

Read additional stories about current collaboratives, career goals and people already making a difference in the workforce:

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