When Opportunity is Met by Inclusion
A Community Employment Services Success Story
It’s easy to see the casual comradery Darin Lommell and Clayton McPherson share with their fellow employees. Joking around with the security guard, ribbing their direct supervisors about minor frivolities, and sharing inside jokes. Watching the easy rapport they share, it is hard to imagine that not too long ago both of them were at home, wondering if they did find another job. Would they be accepted and included by their fellow workers if they were to start over? Darrel says, “I wasn’t sure if they were going to like me?” “I was nervous.” Clayton adds, “I was nervous about starting a job.”
None of those feelings are apparent today. Both Clayton and Darrel are enmeshed in the job and work culture at the Honda Distribution Center. Clayton who takes his 2 p.m. break by the employee entrance, is a staple for employees who often stop and say “hi” or check-in on their way into work. These casual interactions are part of the web of connections that make inclusion happen.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The theme for NDEAM 2021, is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from COVID-19. DEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and their place in the wider economy.
It started with a phone call. Says Sam Swanson, Onsite Supervisor for Kelly Professional & Industrial. “I did a Google search, and The Arc of the Quad Cities Area’s Community Employment Services came up.” Known for its work force solutions for a variety of employers, a match was made. The Arc’s Community Employment Services program creates a link between workers and employers looking to fil vacancies. Job Developers assess the needs of the employer as well as the skills and abilities of the individuals seeking employment providing locals businesses with quality employees while reducing employers’ turn-over and absenteeism.
“We love having these guys here, they’re a joy.” Kelly Services provides the some staffing for Honda’s Parts Distribution Center in Davenport, IA which services parts for an 11 state wide area. Darin and Clayton help with the housekeeping duties at the site making sure that the work environment is clean and running smoothly. Duties include breaking down boxes, shredding boxes for packaging material, sweeping the floor of debris, dusting, and keeping the trash receptacles empty.
As for that initial hesitancy for starting a job. It’s totally melted way. Both have advice for others who might be thinking about getting into the workforce but are still unsure. Say’s Darrell, “I love this job.” Both recommend “Try it, you’ll like it.” Their supervisor Sam continues, “I’ve seen their confidence really perk up.” “Anything worth doing is worth taking the risk.”
Both Darin and Clayton were laid off earlier in the year, when their previous employer was bought out and the plant experienced huge layoffs. Their employment journey had experienced a set-back. But fortunately it was met with an opportunity when Sam picked-up the phone. Says Sam, “They’ve been a God send, I’m glad I made the call.” Their employment journey has truly been “powered by inclusion.”