Posted on : 06 Jun 2022 | No Comments
KANDU’s community employment program is designed to create opportunities for people with barriers to employment through cultivated relationships with area businesses. One of those matches is First Lutheran Church and KANDU client Kora, who has been working there since 2017. Kora, who started working with KANDU in 2016 to explore employment options, explained, “I worked at Perfectly Plus, and then Goodwill in Beloit. Then I got my job at First Lutheran Church. KANDU helped me find and apply for all three jobs.” First Lutheran Church turned out to be the perfect fit for Kora.
When Kora first started in the program, loud outbursts and certain aggressive behaviors required two KANDU job coaches to accompany her at all times during work shifts. At Perfectly Plus and Goodwill, Kora needed significant reminders and assistance to complete job duties due to the amount of recall needed to remember her various tasks, as well as the level of speed required in busy, fast-paced retail environments. Soon after, Kora moved on to First Lutheran Church to clean restroom facilities, where she quickly caught on to the routine of her responsibilities. Her job coach remembers, “Once Kora learned her routine and demonstrated she was able to thoroughly complete her tasks, she increased her productivity from six to all eleven bathrooms over a four-hour shift.”
The growth in skill sets and job independence is only one facet of how the community employment program can benefit clients. Communication and coping skills can also be strengthened in these positions, as is the case with Kora. According to Isaiah Vance, a member of Kora’s support team who has been with her since 2016, “Kora has learned strong coping skills. She used to let a lot of things bother her and ultimately impact her ability to work but in the past few years, she has worked hard to identify appropriate coping mechanisms and knows when and how to utilize them in order to be successful.” Kora agrees, “I think my biggest accomplishment is being able to work by myself and not need a job coach all the time.”
Often the experience of interacting with coworkers, supervisors, and patrons at their place of employment can offer opportunities for KANDU clients to form lasting relationships with the community, creating a strong support network. Kora’s friendly face is a welcome sight around First Lutheran Church said her supervisor Jude Tropp, “We love having Kora on our staff. She has a great personality and is always so happy and smiley.” According to Kora, the feeling is mutual, “I like everything about my job. My boss is very nice and I like working here, especially when the fair is right across the street.”
With consistent support from job coaches, a welcoming environment at First Lutheran Church, and her personal drive to grow and learn, Kora’s story truly embodies the mission and values of KANDU Industries. “I am so incredibly proud of Kora for all the hard work and the growth she has experienced over the last six years and grateful to have been even a small part of her success,” said Isaiah. Of course, hard work should be rewarded, so don’t think it’s all work and no play around here. When asked what her favorite thing about KANDU is, Kora was quick to reply, “The parties!”