The Community Based Day & Employment Supports program at The Arc of Opportunity meets the individual where he or she is at in their independent living journey. The program offers services on a continuum that is viewed as a “pathway to employment.” Our mission is to support the individuals within the program to deliberately move forward on this continuum. Now, embracing this self-determined vision of change is easier said than done! It takes perseverance, self-awareness, and self-motivation. Chris, an individual supported by CBDES programming, exemplifies this journey towards independence.
When speaking to Chris about his story he notes that his employment journey started with part-time employment within The Arc’s janitorial crew. He worked to build connections with other individuals in his work crew, the job coaches that provided continuous support as well as members of our community partner and job site, The Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Staff at the Boys & Girls club comment that they see members of the work crew as members of their community and value the contributions they make. This served as a supportive, integrated training ground for Chris.
As Chris sharpened his skill set and became more confident, he applied for a part-time independent employment position at The Arc on the facilities team. This was an intelligent risk; he had navigated this type of employment in a group setting with consistent support and felt he was ready to take the leap to a more independent venture.
Chris hit the ground running and within months of work moved from part to full-time employment within The Arc. He feels his job coach, Mike, sets him up for success and offers just enough support. Chris explains to his team that he enjoys and is proud that he is able to do his job independently. When asked what the most rewarding aspect of his job is he notes, “staff gatherings,” commenting that he enjoys being part of The Arc staff community. When asked what he would tell another individual looking to make the same change in employment he calmly commented, “go with the flow,” reminding his peers to stay calm, cool and collected.
Chris' story demonstrates a commitment to self-development and excellence. Nice job, Chris! The CBDES team looks forward to aiding the development of more independent living stories like this as we roll into 2018!