Each year, APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) honors individuals and businesses who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to ensuring integrated employment for all individuals at the Annual National Conference. That said, we have some exciting news to share, our Employment Manager extraordinaire, Cassy Davis, had a wonderful idea; why not nominate our whole team of Employment Consultants, rather than just one individual? As Cassy explained in the letter she sent out to the award committee, “they are all equally talented and doing amazing work in the area of Employment First and have found a way to best utilize the team approach which is Discovery-driven in nature.” Please continue reading to learn what Cassy had to say about the Employment Team and the important work they do every day.
‘Since adopting a clear focus on community-based employment around 2003, Community Involvement Programs has been ahead of the curve when it comes to employment. We were one of the first service-providers in the state of MN to abolish the use of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Section 14(c) special wage certificate, as well as ending all sheltered, contracted, and group work. Since these changes were made, we have strictly advocated for REAL JOBS: independent, fair-wages, and community-based!
In 2010, we were so fortunate to have been one of the first service providers in the state of MN to have been trained on and put into practice Griffin-Hammis Associates’ Discovering Personal Genius Process. By utilizing the innovative tools we’ve learned from the Discovery Process over the past several months in particular, we have found the highest rate of quality, meaningful and long-standing jobs in the history of our organization. It’s amazing what people are capable of when given proper training and a collective goal. Because of this combination for success, the jobs started pouring in: over the past seven months we have averaged 6.5 new jobs per month with only seven Employment Consultants (now eight) who have a myriad of responsibilities in addition to job-seeking. In November 2012, we hit our highest employment rate ever: 74% (which is in direct contrast to our county’s average of 25.3%). Although we are very proud of this fact, our ultimate goal is to have a 100% employment rate and we are quite confident we will!
This employment team is just something else. Over the past year, they’ve helped several people find jobs who haven’t worked in years. They’ve helped one person find work who’s over 50 and hasn’t had paid work ever. They’ve fiercely advocated for people, pushing for increased hours, wages, tasks, better positions and in some cases, for people to not be terminated simply because of a turnover in management. They’re not just job-seeking assistants: they’re case managers, they’re mentors, they’re teachers, they’re facilitators. They help staff our understaffed community-based day services. They work weekends and evenings, with curiously low amounts of overtime and without complaint. They cheer each other on. They encourage each other when needed. They come from different backgrounds with different stories and somehow, even though it probably wouldn’t be the case in most other settings, they come together. They need nothing more in common with each other than our mission. It’s what drives them, keeps them focused, and keeps them working as one. Every single day I am in awe of the way this team operates; what they’re doing is absolutely incredible and what excites me most is that we’re just getting started.
As a manager at a non-profit organization I often find it difficult to show the amount of gratitude and appreciation to my team that I truly believe they deserve. I can’t give them raises or bonuses or big fancy gifts but I can do this: offer them potential recognition of a job well done on a national platform.
These people are the superheroes of Employment First and I couldn’t possibly be more proud. I really think we’ve got something special here. If this is how far we’ve come in less than a year, then I can’t wait to see what’s next.’
Well said Cassy. Regardless of the outcome of the awards, we could not be more proud of our team and the work they are doing! Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or have interest in learning more about the Employment First movement.