THE NEW NORMAL
Skookum's Community Employment Services Newsletter
4525 Auto Center WAy
Bremerton, WA 98312
WHO ARE WE?
Community Employment Services
Skookum’s mission is to create opportunities for people with disabilities. Skookum is located in eleven states plus Washington, D.C. We employ over 1,290 employees, including 850 people with disabilities and 430 veterans.
FOUNDATIONAL COMMUNITY SUPPORTS
SOCIAL SECURITY TICKET TO WORK
Agape Unlimited – Kitsap County
Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)
Bremerton Chamber of Commerce
Cascadia Bountiful Life – Kitsap County
Community Employment Alliance (CEA) – WA State
Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
Jefferson County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board
Kitsap Community Resources (KCR)
Kitsap Mental Health Services
Kitsap Recovery Center (KRC)
Kitsap Suicide Prevention Workgroup
Kitsap Transition Council
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Olympic Workforce Development Council
WA State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment
Clients with disabilities (including low vision or blindness) are referred to Skookum to receive assistance with identifying career goals, overcoming barriers, developing a resume and practicing interview skills. Once they are employed, Skookum staff provide job coaching and assist with requesting reasonable accommodations.
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND (DSB) AND DIVISION OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION (DVR)
COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT
This is a new program for Skookum. It is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority. It is for Medicaid recipients with complex needs. Through a variety of partnerships, Skookum is assisting these clients with finding and maintaining employment. Clients must have a physical, mental health and/or substance use disorder diagnosis which affects their ability to be gainfully employed.
In Jefferson County, we provide multiple services to people with disabilities. One of these services is called Community Guide. This service is used to assist clients to reach a goal. This goal can be related to any aspect of their life. The Community Guide provides support, access, and participation in community activities. Another service we offer is helping clients, who receive DDA funding, to identify job interests and find a job of their choice. Job coaching and long term job support is an added resource. Both of these services help clients with developmental disabilities become integrated members of the community.
Skookum’s Community Employment Services department provides employment services through various county, state and federal agencies. In 2019, we served 61 clients. From Jan. 2020 to July 2020 we have served 73 clients.
Over the last year, Skookum has been partnering and networking with a variety of agencies and groups! These connections have been an exciting opportunity for us to be more connected with local agencies and committees who share the value of empowering people with disabilities.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
JEFFERSON COUNTY SERVICES
This is a federal program for people who are currently on Social Security (SSI/SSDI) benefits. Beneficiaries who have a goal of getting off Social Security and working can get assistance from Skookum. We assist clients with finding and maintaining employment.
Position: Vocational Coordinator
Role: I help with compliance & program oversight for all of our CES contracts. I also provide some direct client support.
About: I grew up in Tennessee, before moving to Washington in 2013. I have a B.S in Anthropology. In 2016, I was hired by Skookum starting as a Vocational Assistant. I was promoted to Vocational Specialist, then became Vocational Coordinator in January 2019. I'm working on getting certified as a Career Services Provider. In my personal life, I’m honestly kind of (a huge) nerd. I play Dungeons & Dragons. I also spend a lot of my free time spoiling my two fur babies.
Motivation: When it comes to being motivated it’s mostly just knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s day or life that does it for me.
Before learning about Ticket to Work and reaching out to Skookum for services, Paul had always had a difficult time staying employed long-term. Paul’s mental health had often kept him from being successful on the job for more than a handful of months at a time. Paul also faced some other barriers due to being justice-involved in the past.
Shortly after assigning his ticket to Skookum in January, Paul was hired full-time by a company in Bremerton that does industrial cleaning at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Paul was initially nervous about disclosing his disability, but after discussing the pros and cons with his Skookum Employment Specialist, he agreed to let her contact his employer directly to help explain some of his challenges.
As of the end of May, Paul is still going strong, and his employer has been overall very understanding about his disability. Keep it up, Paul!
Position: Vocational Director
Role: I oversee the AbilityOne Vocational & Community Employment Services divisions at Skookum.
About: I’m a Washington state native. I completed my Master’s degree in Student Development Administration from Seattle University. I came to Skookum 6 years ago. My hobbies include spending time with my husband, three children, five pets including a horse, gardening, camping and reading.
Motivation: At Skookum we like to say “work is the medicine.” I am motivated by people finding success in their worklife.
2000 Sims Way, Port Townsend, WA, 98368
Position: Employment Specialist
Role: I develop relationships with local employers. I work 1:1 with clients throughout the entire job search process and provide long-term support.
About: I have a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in mild/moderate disabilities. I am a Veteran. I love baking, gardening, working on cars with my family.
Motivation: I have been in supported employment for 3.5 years and am motivated by the clients I get the privilege to work with. I see so much determination and resiliency that I am always inspired to be a better form of myself. I try to bring positivity & kindness to the job searching process.
Position: Employment Specialist
Role: I develop relationships with clients, guardians, families, etc. Clients and I work together to obtain and retain paid positions in their communities.
About: I have worked for over thirteen years in the field, the last five years with Skookum. I enjoy spending time with my extended family, family gatherings are a monthly event in Olympia. I also spend time reading mysteries, working on stained glass and singing. (Although singing is not what the family and friends call it.) In the summer my Zen Zone is the back deck where I putter with potted plants.
Motivation: I enjoy working with clients, families, and their natural supports.
Position: Job Coach
Role: I train and supervise an amazing four-man crew with various disabilities. Safety is one of my top priorities.
About: I have a 10-acre farm where I raise alpacas. I graduated with an associate degree majoring in mathematics/science from Everett Community College. Before coming to Skookum, I worked in the technology field as a shop steward. I came to Skookum because I wanted to work with people and make a difference.
Motivation: This is the most rewarding job because I get to work with the same crew everyday, and we're like a small family here at Skookum.
Tony has a long history with Skookum and its founder Jim Westall. Originally, Tony worked at Skookum Jump Rope, where he gained the skills to move forward into integrated employment.
For the last 5 years Tony has been employed by Pan d’Amore Bakery, where he labels bags for retail sales. Discussions with coworkers surrounding music (artist, genres, & song titles), favorite travel destinations, and local eateries bring Tony to life!
Beyond the paycheck, Tony has made valuable connections with his coworkers, which is obvious when watching him gain independence and self-worth.
SUCCESSES AND TRIUMPHS
Position: Americorps Vocational Mentor serving at Skookum
Role: I assist Tonya with the FCS program through teaching job readiness, computer skills and financial literacy classes.
About: I am from Brooklyn, NY and moved to the PNW as a military spouse. I graduated from Old Dominion University with my bachelor’s degree in Human Services in December 2019. I am currently enrolled in a Master of Social Work program at Virginia Commonwealth University. I spend my spare time reading fantasy novels & spending time with my family including our furbabies.
Motivation: I am motivated to continue my service here because my own disabilities led me toward a career advocating for others with disabilities.
MEET SKOOKUM'S COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT
Rick has a long history with Skookum. In October of 2019, Rick retired from the Recycle Crew in Port Townsend after almost 20 years of paid employment. Rick, still wanting to be active in the community and knowing he has fantastic skills, soon found a volunteer position at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Rick is able to assist the aquarium with feeding the urchins, sweeping the building's wooden pier floors, and taking care of the recycling. While COVID 19 has stopped the inside work, Rick is now contributing by cleaning up the nearby beaches.
Skookum’s CARF review will be completed virtually Spring 2021.
Skookum has started an exciting partnership with Kitsap Community Resources (KCR). Skookum employees experiencing short term financial crisis are able to receive financial advising and sometimes financial grants to assist with crises around housing, medical bills, and/or housing and car repairs.
Skookum started new AbilityOne contracts over the last year in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington. We have also experienced expanded contract needs at our JBLM Fleet site in Tacoma, Washington, and Fort Riley, Kansas. These additions have added an additional 60+ people with disabilities to our workforce.
Skookum has a monthly virtual newsletter. If you are interested in getting monthly Skookum updates please sign up on our website at Skookum.org
"Paul was one of the best hires we’ve made this year!" - Tina, Manager at Safeway
What's New at Skookum?
As with the rest of the world, Skookum has been focused on COVID-19 over the last six months. We are sanitizing meeting rooms between use, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing when meeting with clients in person. Many Skookum employees are teleworking and conducting business via telephone or email when possible. We have continued to work with clients, and despite the impact on the economy in our state, we have found jobs for many clients. We hope everyone is staying healthy.
This past October, Paul was referred to the Foundational Community Supports program by one of Skookum’s partnering agencies. Paul’s previous employment experience was limited to the heating, ventilation, & air conditioning (HVAC) field, and he was ready for a career change! He began working with Tonya on his job readiness skills and was placed temporarily at Safeway as a cashier.
Paul walked on foot in all types of weather to his job at Safeway. At Safeway, Paul’s skills shined in his daily interactions with customers. Paul’s persistence and hard work paid off, and Safeway offered him a permanent cashier position. The job spurred Paul’s motivation for self-sufficiency. He is currently looking for a new place, saving up for a vehicle to make getting to work easier, and plans to continue attending college in the fall. Paul wanted to let everyone know, "Skookum goes above and beyond even after they find you work!"