Job 75 aims to get jobs for disabled workers

June 3, 2012 6:54:22 AM PDT
Several Chicago area not-for-profit organizations serving people with developmental disabilities have collaborated in an endeavor called Job 75 -- finding jobs for 75 individuals with disabilities every year.

Missy is 29 years old and works at the Children Museum of Oak Lawn.

"I'm working Tuesday through Friday," she said. "I work here 9 to 1" 12:32

"I clean all the toys up. If the kids come, they play around with stuff, we put the stuff away and clean and stuff."

Her boss, executive director Adam Woodworth, said she is doing a great job.

"She's very attentive with the customer," Woodworth said. "She shows kids and families the different exhibits and how to use the exhibits if they need help. She is always on time and she's just a great employee to have and really is a boost to the staff morale."

Missy is an example of the kinds of people Job 75 is looking to place, said Jim Hutson, corporate employment consultant for Intersect for Ability.

"In Intersect for Ability, with Job 75, seven agencies are involved in this," Hutson said. "Our goal is to have one point of contact for employers. So rather than having seven agencies contact one employer to work out job opportunities with someone with disabilities, we have one person who's the contact for the employer."

Individuals with disabilities have different job skills.

"Some people are going to be doing some traditional jobs, such as sweeping and mopping, working in kitchens," Hutson said. "Other people are going to be working in offices, doing copying and faxing, reception work. We have people working in physical therapy offices working in retail, working in all kinds of different industries."

Lenore Varey's son Steven is 22. He is hoping to be one of the 75.

"He's very good at cleaning," Lenore Varey said. "We've put him to work at our house cleaning for many years. He also good at office skills. He helps with our mailing at the center, he helps shredding papers.

"I 'd like to see him working at a job that he can be happy at."

Hutson said there are opportunities in retail.

"We have an awful lot of retail employers that are gearing up for summer hiring," he said. "So right now, we have several candidates who are interviewing. Offices have slow but we've been talking with large corporations in the city who are interested in bringing people on board."

Woodworth said employers at first can be apprehensive, not sure if people can perform the tasks that are required.

"We don't treat Missy any differently than any other employees," he said. "Missy has performance reviews. Missy attends staff meetings. Missy has been going through CPR training . . . and she's right there and usually one of the first one to put her hand up and volunteer."

The program started a year and half ago. They are making significant inroads in getting people employed. To learn more about Intersect for Ability's Job 75, visit www.intersectforability.net


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