When dedication to hard work is recognized by your employer with an award, it often calls for a moment in the spotlight. Jack M., a KANDU client in the community employment program, recently received an award for a job well done from his employer, Olde Towne Mall, in Janesville. Beaming with pride, Jack accepted the award with a simple, “Thank you, citizens!” Jack enjoyed a few snacks during the celebration and then was eager to get back to work. Jack’s story is a testament to the power of collaboration and inclusivity, showcasing how, together, we can create supportive work environments where every individual can thrive.
Jack is a valued member of the Olde Towne Mall team in downtown Janesville. His responsibilities include tending to plants, maintaining cleanliness by cleaning windows and sweeping, and ensuring the building’s overall upkeep for a pleasant visitor experience. While Olde Towne Mall provides essential support for Jack, KANDU further enhances his work experience through its community employment program.
This initiative establishes vital connections with local businesses to identify and cultivate increased employment opportunities for individuals facing disabilities and employment barriers in Rock County, Wisconsin. In Jack’s case, the job opportunity at Olde Towne Mall perfectly aligns with his natural talents and abilities, thanks to the business’s commitment to creating a position tailored to him.
Once a client’s interests, strengths, and aspirations align with an available job opportunity at a local business, KANDU job coaches step in to provide one-on-one guidance to ensure long-term success. “Everyone who works with Jack instantly falls in love with him. Look at any job coach that works with Jack, and I’ll bet you catch them with a smile on their face,” said Miriam Elvert, a client services manager at KANDU.
“Jack relies heavily on his job coach, Vicky Wright, who has a special bond with him. Her devotion and support are crucial to Jack’s success,” said Miriam.
“Jack is the highlight of my Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Vicki. “As soon as he sees me, he says, ‘It’s my Vick! He will even tell job coaches who fill in for me that he can’t do his work without his Vick. It’s really endearing.”
Clients and their coaches form a close relationship throughout the teaching process and Vicky notes the special connection she has developed with clients that she has supported long-term like Jack. Working with adults with disabilities requires a unique skill set, and Vicky’s years of experience as a special education teacher in the Parkview School District have prepared her well to be a calm, positive influence on clients.
“Jack is an expert at his job and performs it very well. Every so often he does try to get me to help clean the windows. He will spray one window and then stand back and tell me he sprayed it down for me to clean. Of course, I oblige,” Vicky said with a wink.
Jack’s dedication, paired with the support of his colleagues and the community employment program, exemplifies the essence of KANDU’s mission: creating opportunities, fostering independence, and nurturing the potential of every individual. Jack’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the impact of a supportive community.