Navigating the Path to Employment
Empowering individuals with disabilities on their road to independence and community inclusion.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to help individuals with disabilities find meaningful employment, Patrick Wilson is the man to speak to. For the past 12 years, Patrick has been a dedicated member of the VOA Southeast team, and his journey within the organization has been nothing short of inspiring. As we celebrate his upcoming 13th work anniversary in February, it’s the perfect time to learn more about the man behind the job coach role, the clients he serves, and the process they go through in the Supported Employment program.
Meet Patrick Wilson: A Journey of Dedication
Patrick’s tenure at VOA Southeast began in 2011 when he started as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in Montgomery. Those initial three months, from February to May, served as the foundation for what would become a passionate and enduring commitment to helping others. His dedication to the cause led him to assume the role of Resident Supervisor for two and a half years. Later, he relocated to Mobile, where he became a Q (Qualified) staff member from 2013 to 2014. It was during this time that he discovered his true calling within the organization: Supported Employment.
For Patrick, the heart of his work lies in creating relationships with others. The joy he experiences from helping his clients find a job is immeasurable. He explains that when everything works as it should, it’s like an adrenaline rush. The true magic, however, is witnessing the uncontainable excitement in his clients when they secure employment. Yet, as he readily admits, the journey doesn’t end there. There’s more work to be done to ensure they keep their jobs.
The Clients Patrick Serves
The clients served by Patrick and the Supported Employment program come from the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS). These are individuals with disabilities who are referred to the program through Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab).
The process for these clients is both supportive and transformative. First, the client chooses the organization they want to work with to help them find a job. VOA Southeast is just one of several options, which include notable organizations like Goodwill, UCP, Alta Pointe, and many more.
The Milestones of Progress
The journey to employment is divided into meaningful milestones, each representing a step closer to the client’s goal of securing a job. Here’s a brief overview:
Milestone 7: This marks the intake stage, where the client and job coach discuss the direction they want to take in their job search. It’s at this point that a job coach is assigned, and the real journey begins.
Milestone 1: At this stage, the client embarks on a journey to assess their abilities. They visit various places like Goodwill or Penelope Closets to explore different opportunities. The search for employment begins and ends with a job in this phase.
Milestone 2: The client has found a job and worked for three working days. This is an important step towards achieving employment stability.
Milestone 3: After working on the job for two weeks, the client is making significant progress.
Milestone 4: The ultimate goal is to reach the 90-day mark of successful employment, starting from the first 14 days of Milestone 3. Once this is achieved, the case is considered closed for Vocational Rehabilitation purposes. However, if at any point during this journey the client loses their job, they can return to their job coach, who will continue to provide support and guidance.
In an upcoming article, we’ll dive deeper into Patrick’s journey and explore the stories of the clients he serves, shedding light on the incredible work being done by VOA Southeast’s Supported Employment program. Stay tuned to learn more about the triumphs and challenges that come with helping individuals with disabilities find their rightful place in the workforce.