Clark County Businesses and Citizens Honored for their Commitment to Employment and Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities!

Clark County Businesses and Citizens Honored for their Commitment to Employment and Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities!

On October 17, 2017 the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, New Seasons Market, and Umpqua Bank hosted the 17th annual awards ceremony to honor Clark County’s employees with developmental disabilities, their employers, employment agencies, and citizens who provide outstanding service.

The event took place at The Heathman Lodge in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the theme: Inclusion Drives Innovation. Kelly Love of Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center was the emcee. Throughout the program, several videos were shown to introduce award categories. These videos featured a combination of 2016 Award winners and others making an impact in Clark County supported employment (click links to view):

The 2017 Award presenters were: Clark County Councilor Julie Olson, Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board Member Le Ann Larson, and the chair of the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board Ted Engelbrecht. The event, attended by over 250 people, was broadcast live on CVTV.  See the recording here:

2017 Award Winners

The 2017 Large Employer of the Year is Pacific Crest Custom Cabinetry, which has worked creatively to restructure tasks to leverage the skills of their employees and work with them to ensure they work the maximum number of hours they desire. They work hard to create an atmosphere that brings coworkers together as a team, making each employee know that he or she is an integral part of the work family. 

The 2017 Small Employer of the Year is Marshall’s. They are known for their ability to see hiring as an opportunity to include people of all backgrounds and perspectives. They provide excellent natural supports and have gone above and beyond with supporting everyone to be successful. The management team understands that a cohesive and effective team is created when each employee is recognized for their contribution and opportunities for growth and career advancement is afforded to everyone.

The 2017 Employee of the Year was presented to two different stand-out nominees:

Austin Ewald, courtesy clerk at Mill Plain/Andresen Safeway. He is known for never being too busy to help a customer or coworker. If things are slow in the front, he will help his coworkers with stocking or changing out displays. His keen eye for detail is appreciated by all and he never misses an item out of place when doing his hourly safety sweeps of the store. His positive attitude and dedication to his work is apparent to all. If you stop by the Andresen Safeway on a 100-degree day in August or a snowy day in December, you will see him outside gathering carts with the same speed and determination.

Christopher Gaston: He was nominated by his employer, saying that he has continued to be a dedicated and valued employee through the 21 years he has worked at S.E.H. America. He is highly regarded by his fellow co-workers and is noted for his good humor and gregarious nature. Throughout his history at S.E.H., he has been recognized as “Employee of the Month” several times. Most recently, he was selected for typifying “S.E.H. Guiding Principle #6: Keeping work enjoyable, positive, and engaging activity while respecting others. By his long tenure and performance, he exemplifies how capabilities far exceed barriers, and his presence in the workplace is an asset.

The 2017 David Hanawalt Service Award was presented to Carolyn Newton of Goldman and Associates. She is described as a person who is “any manager’s go-to person.” Not only does she enjoy her job, but her success in supporting people in job retention, increasing duties, and working more hours, shows her true commitment to her work. The quality of her work has led to referrals from other employers, and she has supported every single one of her customers to retain their job since hired at Goldman and Associates 5 years ago—not a single job was lost on her watch.

The 2017 Dennis Campbell Outstanding Service Award was presented to Harold Rains, Finance Manager for the Department of Community Services. He is described as a man full of not only ideas, but action. He has spearheaded building-wide diversity trainings that are quite innovative in Clark County. He has also taken his positive experience with supported employment on the road, participating in various events and conferences. He has sat on panels of employers, sharing his experience and encouraging other businesses to give supported employment a try. He firmly understands the importance of a county that will hire staff that echo the diversity of the community they support. He is someone who believes wholeheartedly in power of people—all people, to contribute and be valued.

Employers affiliated with all 2017 nominees are: Ilani Resort, Walmart, Home Depot (Jantzen Beach), Clark County Treasurer & I.T. Department, Heathman Lodge (Hudson’s Bar & Grill), Wendy’s, Dog Gone Clean, MadDog’s Gourmet Hotdogs, MOD Pizza (Hazel Dell), Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, and Jack in the Box.

Congratulations to all!

For more information about Clark County’s employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities, please contact:
Mary Strehlow,
(360) 397-2075 ext. 7825, [email protected]

October National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Dan Rutten

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is now in its 29th year and it’s amazing to think about the progress we have made in the last three decades since its inception. From the shifting emphasis on the value of community-based employment over segregated labor, to the increased acknowledgement of the idea that anyone can work if we focus on what a person can do rather than their perceived limitations, and more recently, the large employer initiatives focusing on hiring individuals with disabilities within corporate and governmental entities, we are moving closer to the conclusion that disability does not in fact, mean inability.

That said, there is still a lot of work to be done. High rates of unemployment and under employment for individuals with disabilities is very apparent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities still experience an unemployment rate that is double of that of the population of people who do not identify as having a disability. And many of those who are employed are seeking more hours and higher pay than they currently are currently receiving.

The good news is this though, as a field of professionals we continue to get better at our jobs and how we provide quality services to individuals. We are finding great successes when partnering with DVR and schools to start providing employment services earlier, knowing that statistics show that if students with a disability leaves school/transition programs with a job, they have a higher likelihood of maintaining employment as adults. We are utilizing technology to give people a louder voice and the opportunity to engage in activities that may not have been possible without it. We are removing our own barriers of silo-ing ourselves by creating more cross-agency collaborations, realizing that we as individuals and entities don’t always have all the answers. And most importantly, we are doing a better job at listening to those we are partnering with to advance their careers, ensuring that we help to create opportunities that match a person’s skills and interests, leading to increased longevity and success.

As National Disability Employment Awareness Month rolls along there will be many opportunities to celebrate, network, and learn from others in our community.

Partners for Work 2017 by Debbie Moore

Our Seattle summer is behind us and fall is here. With this transition, new opportunities within our Partners for Work (PFW) Project are underway. The groundwork has been taking shape over the summer getting Rotary Clubs prepared for their new Greeters. First time clubs have been designing their job descriptions, school districts are identifying potential students and meetings with families and their support agencies are being held.

Rotary Club Greeters are yearlong “working interviews” which provide transition students the opportunity to improve work skills, expand their work experience and earn a paycheck while networking with business people on a weekly basis. This is often their first paid position. Twenty-Two Rotary Clubs have adopted this project within their clubs.

King County employment agencies are connected with students and the weekly club meetings provide a platform for the employment agency to build a relationship with the S2W student while also making connections with Rotarians. Students leave this experience with an enhanced resume and close to 100% also exit with employment. Equally important is the enhanced awareness about PFW and the value of hiring individuals with varied abilities.

Enjoy our video;

Partners for Work Greeters, get on board!