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From Workshop to Community Employment: A Team Effort 

When Barry’s sheltered workshop closed in 2018, he had worked there for 16 years. Unsure of what was to come next, Barry decided to join Compass’ community inclusion program so that he could spend time enjoying activities around town with friends. 

During Barry’s participation in community inclusion, it was clear to the Compass team that he loved to be of service and would make a valuable, hard-working employee. He was constantly trying to help out. He wiped down tables, put away pens, and helped his friends by picking up things they had dropped. One of his friends who used a ramp for bowling. Barry loved to help her by placing the ball on the ramp for her. 

Luckily, Barry’s county Service Coordinator had made a referral to Vocational Rehabilitation. Compass’ Job Developer, Sam Soule began prepping Barry’s resume and looking for jobs that would be a good match. Meanwhile, Barry got work experience at the Oregon Food Bank, supported by Sarah Dufficy, Employment Specialist. He weighed, bagged, and labeled food to be distributed to those in need. 

Sam was excited to learn of a kitchen utility position with Aramark Food Service on the campus of a major athletic shoe and clothing company in Beaverton. The hiring process included a working interview; a great chance for Barry to showcase his ability. Barry didn’t get the initial job, but the supervisor was impressed with Barry’s positive attitude and willingness to take on any task. 

A few months later, Barry re-interviewed and was offered the job at 20 hours per week. Barry’s job coaches, Angela Martinez and Josh Wagoner went in for orientation on what to expect at the kitchen and on the company’s campus. Since Barry communicates through gestures, nods, and a few words and phrases, they made a plan to facilitate Barry’s communication with coworkers and his supervisor. Since Barry doesn’t read, they translated his to-do list for his shift to a picture checklist to increase Barry’s independence. 

Barry has been with Aramark for almost two months and it has been a success! Barry’s coworker said, “He’s such a hard worker, an enjoyable person to have around!” Another commented that he does fantastic work. When asked what he likes about his job, Barry indicated that he likes to clean speed racks and sweep. He pointed to everyone that he works with and to his Employment Specialist to indicate that he loves the people he works with. 

As Oregon’s sheltered workshops close, Barry’s story is a great example of how people of all abilities can contribute greatly as employees while being part of an integrated workforce. The Compass team looks forward to finding meaningful work for more Oregonians leaving sheltered workshop environments.