Finding a Dream Job in the Community – A Real Possibility For Latham Centers Adult Residents with Special Needs

picture1-low-resIn his element, Brian records tail numbers on airplanes.

Brian works at the airport

Brian, age 23, is working his dream job. Brian entered Latham School at age 18. When Latham Centers’ Director of Vocational Placement, Maura Smith, met with him to map out his Individual Career Plan, Brian told her he wanted to be an airplane pilot. That would not be possible. So, Maura’s challenge was to find a safe placement for Brian that would involve him in the world of aviation.

Maura scouted southeastern Massachusetts and formed a great working relationship with the management team of a regional airport. Together they mapped out a job description that would serve both the airport’s needs and Brian’s interests and capabilities.  

Today, Brian and his Latham Centers’ Job Coach drive the airport in a golf cart and Brian records the tail numbers on the airplanes to satisfy the airport’s legal requirements to track the planes on airport property. Brian is delighted with this job and airport management is extremely pleased with his performance.

The staff at Latham Centers works with local business owners and managers to create paid jobs and volunteer positions matching the unique talents, capabilities and interests of Latham’s adult residents who opt to become job seekers.

And, Latham’s adult residents filling these paid jobs and volunteer opportunities have lived up to and, in many cases, exceeded the expectations of these businesses for reliable, productive performance on the job.

The pathway to these achievements has been well thought out and executed with meticulous care by the Latham staff.

First, students at Latham Centers are able to participate in a variety of age-appropriate pre-vocational and vocational activities that are fun to do: Making soap, pottery, or other hand-crafted items; growing herbs in our greenhouse, and learning woodworking, mat weaving and more.

Students also get the opportunity to develop the skills involved in office work, hand-assembly and sorting for light manufacturing, and retail customer service – all under the guidance of Brittni Taylor, Director of Education, Melissa Bertrand, Vocational Instructor, and Fred Walters and Liz Taylor, Vocational Aides.

Then each resident at Latham Centers participates in developing his or her own Individual Career Plan (ICP) under the guidance of Latham Director of Vocational Services, Maura Smith. This strategic plan takes into account the resident’s interests and goals, while meeting their needs for support and safety on a job.

During this planning process, Maura takes the Latham residents on visits to local businesses to help them get ideas about the types of jobs that might be available in the community.

She also educates potential employers about Latham Centers and the variety of disorders or conditions that residents here may have, such as: Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), or developmental delays in combination with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Mood and Anxiety Disorders, or Autism Spectrum Disorder as a secondary diagnosis.

Once our adult Latham job seekers are offered and accept a position, Latham staff oversees the placement whether it be short-or long-term. Our staff members act as job coaches -- teaching job accountability and responsibility, and facilitating skill building in the particular field.

Brian’s success was highlighted in a recent special supplement of USA Today.

The stories of just three of Latham’s residents, Brian, Gina,* and Kevin L. illustrate the success of this program.

Gina* works at the greenhouse

Gina* is a young woman with many talents and interests who successfully works year-round in both paid and volunteer jobs.

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Gina at Agway prepares to bring plants into the greenhouse.

 

 

In the summer, Gina enjoys working for Agway of Cape Cod, in Dennis, where she tends to plants in the greenhouse and helps customers. After the high-season ends, Gina volunteers at Wingate Retirement Center in Brewster, and at Maplewood Senior Living in Brewster.

In addition to all this, Gina has her own business -- creating and selling jewelry at local craft shows, such as the Yarmouth Seaside Festival.

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Gina, age 28, has been in Latham Centers’ Adult Residential Program for six years, and before that she was in Latham’s Children’s Program for 15 years.

Kevin L. works at the YMCA
kevinKevin works at the YMCA in Hyannis doing light office work and helping to keep the common spaces neat. He’s delighted to be receiving a steady paycheck. Working in a team-environment with support from both the YMCA staff and Latham Centers’ staff, Kevin is thriving. As a bonus, Kevin also enjoys being able to swim in the YMCA pool. Kevin L. , age 46, has been in Latham Centers’ Adult Residential Program for 27 years.

(Above) Kevin receives his first paycheck at the YMCA.

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Resident Kevin L. and his Job Coach George M. were honored for their meaningful contributions to the Cape Cod Community, at an awards breakfast of the Cape Cod and Islands Citizen Advisory Board for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

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Kevin proudly shows his mother his award.

 

 

 

YMCA Cape Cod Property & Facilities Director Jim Foster says,  “Kevin is one of my team members. I would not trade him for anything."

For more information on Latham Centers Vocational Placements for Special Needs Adults, contact: Maura Smith, Director of Vocational Services: msmith@lathamcenters.org

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.