Small Steps, Big Dreams

Supported employment is one of the most important supports that we offer at George Chambers. For those of you who don’t know what supported employment is, we created an award-winning video a few years ago about that very subject, which you can watch here. (There’s also an episode about it on our podcast!)

Supported employment helps give individuals with disabilities access to greater independence. One way this is achieved? A paycheck. And, today, we want to tell you about someone very special to us at George Chambers, a young woman with a very specific dream for her future…a dream that has now become a reality.

Her name is Chelsea Harris.

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Chelsea moved to Calhoun from Powder Springs and attended the SET program at Kennesaw State University. This program assists students with job skills in various areas, which proved beneficial for Chelsea when she set out to find employment. Her dream job, she said, was “Chick-Fil-A because it’s a Christian company with good morals. And I love eating there.”
(Who doesn’t, right?)
With a heart for serving others and a deep love for God, Chelsea soon snagged an interview with Chick-Fil-A and was hired. Last week, she began work as a host in the dining room, greeting patrons as they walk through the door and checking on them as they enjoy their meals.
Chelsea is one among many in supported employment programs across the country, and her story proves just how important these supports are. But more than anything, it proves that anyone, anywhere, can have a dream and see it come to life.
Cheers to you, Chelsea! And congratulations!
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“For Your Consideration” Available to Watch Now!

It is with great excitement and very thankful hearts that we present our supported employment short film, “For Your Consideration”, for your viewing pleasure.

We are so proud of this project and of the initiative from which it was born. The Region 1 Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, along with the Quality Improvement Council and all Region 1 providers, came together to ask the question: How can we really create change regarding the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities? Will anyone listen to us? We weren’t exactly sure. But we thought they would listen to the individuals themselves. And, as a result, “For Your Consideration” transformed into a story, rather than a monologue. A compilation of lives and goals and passions, rather than just statistics.

Our goal with this film is to reveal the true value in hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. We understand that the hesitation in doing so comes with the need for experience – for knowledge – and those things can only come from taking risks. Employers take risks every single day for the sake of business. And studies have shown that supported employees, on average, cost employers less money, have higher satisfaction and retention rates, and ultimately require less supervision than do traditional employees. So, truly, the benefit of hiring these individuals is far greater than it is anything else.

Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

Watch the whole video now and let us know what you think in the comments!

“For Your Consideration”

 

Introducing: “For Your Consideration” Cover Art

Presented byRegion 1 Department of

We’d like to take this opportunity very quickly to introduce the cover art for our supported employment DVD, “For Your Consideration”. The title was inspired by the phrase “Thank you for your consideration”, which is commonly used in cover letters written by hopeful job applicants.

The title is simple, and it was important that the design be simple, too. It has one message and one goal: to challenge employers who haven’t yet considered hiring individuals with developmental disabilities to think outside the box. It is our hope that after they view this DVD, they will.

Be sure to keep checking back here, and on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, for more information on the DVD! We’ll post the link to the program once it’s finalized.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting our work.

For Your Consideration: A Look at Supported Employment

For the last few weeks, we’ve been working on a short film that takes a peek into the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities who are working and living independently. It also delves into the importance of hiring these individuals, and how, as our CEO so articulately states in the film, “An investment in a person with a disability is the same as an investment in a person without…They’re being given opportunities so that when they are integrated and walk out into the world, they walk the same way we do into all those experiences that we’ve been able to have.”FYC

And, today, we’re proud to announce the title of this short film: For Your Consideration.

During brainstorming sessions over the title, we thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of commonly-used phrases in the hiring and job application processes. We wanted to convey a sense of need that could also be married with a sense of purpose. All individuals need to work and make an income. And all individuals look for purpose in their lives. It can come in many forms: family, friendships, faith, service, art, and, of course, work. So we’re here to help make that happen, not just as a provider of supports for individuals with developmental disabilities, but as people who genuinely care about our fellow men and want their lives to be enriched by opportunity.

The truth is these individuals don’t need to believe they can achieve something. They know they can. And now it’s our turn to believe it, too.

The film is currently in the editing stage and will be submitted for review next week. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @GCRCOfficial, and also Like us on Facebook, to keep up with our agency and receive updates about the film’s release. A few of our team members will also be attending the Business Expo at Calhoun High School on October 22nd from 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. where we’ll be handing out a limited number of free DVD copies, so stop by and see us!

Until next time…

A Thousand Words // The Man with the Green Thumb

Ever since he was a little kid, Douglas has found solace in the outdoors. The warmth of the sunshine, the dirt under his fingernails, new life that sprouts up from beneath the ground. His mother had a garden and it was theirs together. Their place. Their home.

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Each week, Douglas spends much of his day at the center, where his quiet enthusiasm and tender heart have earned him friends among the individuals and staff alike. He’s tall and lean, with an eternal smile that spreads wide across his cheeks. Ask him about that garden and it stretches even wider. Light shines from behind his green eyes and, suddenly, you’re there with him, in the garden, where tasty things grow and life is simple:

Plant, water, harvest.

Good stuff goes in, and good stuff comes out.

When the opportunity came for a greenhouse to be built and a garden to be planted on the center property, Douglas helped make it happen. And now he oversees the care of every living thing. He weeds. He plants. He waters. He picks.

He also sells. Earlier this summer, Douglas sold a mini-harvest of vegetables at a local wholesale market and earned a check that he proudly displayed to his friends and staff at the center.

DouglasCheck

This is his job. But it’s more than that, too.

It’s his life. And because of him, more life begins each day. 

 

Let Your Light S.H.I.N.E.

Flyer Gordon County

This weekend, Saturday, August 23, we will be hosting our very first S.H.I.N.E. event at the historic GEM Theatre here in Calhoun. S.H.I.N.E. stands for “Smoking Hot Initiatives in New Employment” and, really, it’s all about getting local business owners together to talk about the potential we have, as a community, to change people’s lives.

The individuals we serve have developmental disabilities. Some are high-functioning and others need more constant care. But they share one thing in common: they have dreams, hopes, and goals like every other person on this planet. So it should come as no surprise that many of these individuals are working to make their dreams become reality.

Take Douglas, for example. He used to work in the garden with his mother, and those experiences cultivated a love for the earth, and for being outside, in his heart. Douglas was a catalyst for building our own garden and greenhouse here at the center. And, thanks to some very generous community and business members who gave both their time and their money to see it happen, he is able to care for it and sell the vegetables at local markets. He is making connections with the community, building bridges, as we like to say, and the ripple effect from his small success has the potential to grow much, much wider.

So here’s an important question to consider: Why do we work? For an income, that’s obvious. But, mostly, we pursue what we think will give us purpose. What we think will offer us a future. What we think we will enjoy. We take our skills, our passions, and our goals and we put them down on a resume, hoping an employer will take notice and choose us for the job. Douglas, and the many other individuals we serve, are no different.

Well, now is your time to take notice.

We hope you’ll join us at the S.H.I.N.E. event this weekend and learn more about how you can play a role in this exciting, and crucial, time for our community! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GCRCOfficial, and Like us on Facebook to keep up with all the news about this event and others. And, as always, you can send us an email if you have any questions or would like to RSVP for S.H.I.N.E.

See you Saturday!

Talking About: Supported Employment

One of the most important things for us to keep in mind for our individuals are the standards of supported employment. This is why our CEO, Mary West Barclay, is an active member of the GA Region 1 Supported Employment Committee, along with our guest on the blog today, Kate Brady, who is sharing a little about her experience during their most recent meeting:

This group convened with the mission to exceed state standards in Supported Employment services for adults receiving developmental disabilities services in the region. In-depth conversations identified challenges, barriers, and opportunities for improvement. While the Regional office works to collaborate with the State, this group of dedicated providers will engage in problem-solving activities across their 31-county region.

First in a series of activities will be an employment conference held for families. The event will be portable and offer an evening of information and resources relevant to employment. The committee will request collaboration from partners including Vocational Rehabilitation services, Social Security services, and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance projects. The event will be replicable and held in multiple locations across the region.

The group also identified employers as a key resource for advancing employment for people with developmental disabilities and as such has planned to join and present to local Chambers of Commerce. Upon the development of a PSA-style video about the merits and opportunities afforded to employers who engage in hiring employees with disabilities, this resource, also under discussion by the committee, will be distributed broadly to employers and community members.

Thank you, Kate, for visiting us today! We’re excited about the work the Supported Employment Committee is doing for our individuals and for the state of Georgia. Keep up the great work!

More about Kate:

Kate Brady, PhD ABD, has over 12 years of experience leading organizational, team, and individual change through the development and implementation of elaborate research endeavors. As Director of Research at the National Organization on Disability, Kate led the Return to Careers project investigating the career goals and support needs of veterans with PTSD and TBI, collaborated on the resulting development of NOD’s Intensive Career Transition Support Model™, and subsequently co-authored the Wounded Warrior Careers Demonstration report, which was published in 2013. Prior to NOD, Kate served as the Director of Employment Policy for Georgia’s State Developmental Disabilities Agency. She entered the field of disability employment by coordinating a U.S. DOL ODEP Customized Employment Grant designed to support people with high-impact of disability in reaching customized employment goals. In addition to this work, Kate has consulted nationally on best practices in the support of employment for people with disabilities.