Joe Peterson

SDS Spotlight: Employment Services

Helping our clients develop their skills

Employment Services has long been a cornerstone of the Senior and Disability Services department of Community Connections. The program works with clients to determine their interest, develop necessary skills, and find employment.

Lance Haynes has been our Employment Services Manager since 2005. As part of the program’s first steps, he work with clients through a discovery phase which determines what interests and skills they have, and what sort of work environment they would best be suited for.

“Then we help them develop soft skills so a job placement will become a success,” Lance said.

Examples of soft skills include getting hygienically prepared for work, following instructions, interacting with coworkers, being a team player, and arriving for work on time.

“When you put soft skills together, a lot of times it determines whether they’ll be a success in that job,” Lance said. “That’s why we look at soft skills. You can be the best welder on the island and everyone wants you to weld on their stuff, but if you don’t take direction from someone, show up late, or sometimes you don’t show up at all, or you can’t handle someone interacting with you, whatever it might be, if you don’t have good soft skills, the hard skills don’t matter. You won’t be able to sustain employment.”

Brandon Blake
Brandon Blake, center, tours the Ketchikan Police Department. Part of Employment Services includes discovery, where clients are able to learn about potential work opportunities that suit their interests. Brandon has expressed an interest in both law enforcement and the Ketchikan Fire Department, and Lance was able to arrange a ride-along with an Alaska State Trooper.

Joe Peterson, one of our Supported Employment clients, has been with the program and employed at Safeway for more than a dozen years. He also works at the Community Connections office.

“They really love him, I hear that a lot,” said Ardath Peterson, Joe’s mom.

She added that, at times, Joe has been able to go to work and perform his tasks almost entirely independently.

“It’s nice that as he needs it, staff is there and helps him through, which has been great, on both sides, Community Connections and Safeway,” Ardath said.

During his time as Employment Services Manager, Lance has seen numerous clients experience personal growth and positive development after finding steady employment.

“And that, a lot of times for individuals with developmental disabilities, is one of the big changes you witness that’s positive in their lives,” Lance said. “They come out of their shell, they’re interacting with people, they learn they have a voice, that they matter. That’s what employment does for them.

“The big part that really, for me, that gives me purpose to my job and my life is that when I can help someone get a job and it affects their lives in a positive way,” Lance continued. “They’re enjoying life more, they make friends, sometimes they fall in love, they get money so they can buy some of the things they want. It’s a life-changing experience for some of these individuals.”

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