“More Than A Job”
Jose Cervantes was the first person served to utilize the Employment Path Services at our site in Ontario, Oregon. Dedicated direct support professionals and employment specialist worked closely with him to address his barriers to employment. Jose possessed all the skills to make a magnificent employee but suffered from self-doubt and insecurity.
Brookdale Assisted Living had need for a part time room housekeeper, and the employment specialist carved the job to fit Jose’s skills. Jose tentatively agreed to “give it a try,” and trained at the Ontario Witco Facility on the specific tasks, starting his new job site with a basic understanding of the necessities. Initially, Jose was scheduled for nine hours per week. After the first day of work, he commented, “I think I am really going to like this job.” He was waiting and ready to work on his next scheduled day!
The job quickly became a source of pride for Jose. His demeanor improved dramatically. He came to Witco wearing a smile anticipating the next time he would get to work at Brookdale, and his attitude became infectious with other persons served. His new found confidence reduced anxiety in others who were exploring community employment. Jose talked to them about his new friends at Brookdale and his job duties. “I can do that too!” said Deana, another Witco client. Deana became so entranced with the idea of community employment, she ended up being the first to join our crew that works at the SE Oregon Food Bank in Ontario.
After six months of work at Brookdale, Jose was asked to take on more shifts and additional duties. In addition to his cleaning duties, he was promoted to the kitchen staff. He learned how to serve meals, wash dishes, prep the kitchen and more. His hours jumped to 25 per week, and he stopped attending Witco’s workshop, making it his full time job.
“If I can keep this job, there is a good chance that I can get my own place.” Jose said after finishing a late shift one day. We realized that this job was more than a job for Jose. This was his first opportunity to take a step towards independence. It opened a world that seemed closed to him. Jose made goals for himself, for instance, taking 15 minutes to clean per room and greeting each resident courteously. These internal goals have endeared him to Brookdale. Jose has become a permanent house cleaner working Monday – Friday. Jose continues to inspire his friends at Witco to make the leap to community employment. He serves as a role model for anyone with disabilities seeking to enhance the quality of their life.