Helping People with Developmental Disabilities Find Meaningful Work

Jennifer is AbleLight's 2022 Retail Associate of the Year

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. At AbleLight, we believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential. In many cases, that includes employment and inclusion within their communities.

At AbleLight, we employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our Employment Supports program provides the resources and support individuals with developmental disabilities need to find jobs and the work environment best suited to them. We also support individuals throughout their employment so they’re successful and happy at work.

Employment Supports: Meet Job Developer Michelle

As a job developer, Michelle helps people with developmental disabilities find jobs.

She takes them through assessments to determine their abilities, aptitude and interests. Are they good at office work? Can they handle money? Do they have an affinity for animals? Maybe they’re a people person.

After identifying the types of jobs that might work best for each individual, Michelle provides resume support so they get the interview and interview training so they’re prepared to prove themselves capable in their ideal job.

“Michelle makes the world a better place,” said Community Integrated Employment Manager Cheryl Sasaki. “She has high standards, and she brings compassion and patience to her role, making her great at her job.”

Earlier this year, Michelle worked with a young woman who thought she wanted to bag groceries. Michelle challenged her to try a more complex job, “picking” a shopping list at Walmart for pickup or delivery. She also took the young woman through several assessments and helped her experience some other jobs to find the best opportunity. It turns out, the young woman was very personable and working at the local movie theater was a great fit. She’s thriving now in a role she never considered.

The best part of the job? “Seeing people we serve achieve independence and happiness,” said Michelle.

The worst part of the job? When they’re stable in their job, it’s time they move to a job coach. “It’s hard when I don’t see them regularly, even when I know they’re in good hands.”

Employment: Living, working and thriving

At AbleLight, we’re committed to the idea that people with developmental disabilities can live a life of purpose. Did you know that about 30 percent of the people we hire at our AbleLight Thrift Shops have intellectual and developmental disabilities? We provide meaningful employment for the people we hire, and employment supports for people we serve.

Employees: Retail Associate of the Year

In August, Jenny was named AbleLight Retail Associate of the Year. She was nominated by her Thrift Shop manager and selected from dozens of nominees for her belief in the AbleLight mission and her passion for sharing our mission with others. Jenny has worked with our AbleLight Thrift Shop in Valparaiso, Indiana, for 10 years and continues to give 100 percent to her work every single day. She puts others first and is always willing to pitch in and help fellow team members.

Maybe most importantly, Jenny is known and beloved for her generous and complimentary spirit. She compliments everyone she encounters and makes them feel welcome in our shop, coworkers and customers included.

Ensuring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are teammates, friends, and neighbors within our communities, through employment and employment supports, are just two of the many ways AbleLight supports thriving lives for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Check out careers at AbleLight that offer and support employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.