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Employment Services: Worker Bees

Updated: May 22, 2020

Honeybees are fascinating creatures. Not only is every bee industrious and purposeful, but it takes a lot of them working together to create this natural substance we call honey. One might say Corvilla has a lot in common with these amazing insects. When I think of Corvilla, it's hard for me not to use an analogy that doesn't involve the honeybee. Why? Well, like a bee, we at Corvilla also see the benefit of servant leadership. As most know, a honeybee works tirelessly for their queen. They all work together towards a common goal. At Corvilla, we may all have different jobs and titles, but we too are working towards the same goal; to make life meaningful and purposeful for all our clients; one might even say that’s our “honey.” One department, in particular, comes to mind when best explaining the similarities, Employment Services.

May 2015

Employment Services was first established in May of 2015. Our CEO, Rick Thompson, first brought the idea up to create this department during his interview. When speaking with him, he said,

”I've always been a community guy. When talking to someone for the first time, normally, you ask them their name and eventually ask where they work. I wanted to be able to help our clients answer that last question." - Rick Thompson, CEO

Employment Services is a department that focuses on working with Vocational Rehabilitation to help individuals with physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities get a job in the community. Corvilla wanted to offer a wide range of opportunities to individuals, no matter the barrier. When Employment Services first started, the department only consisted of Lisa Kay, the previous Director of Employment Services. Lisa had a lot of experience working with individuals with disabilities. She chose to come to Corvilla because she loved the idea of starting something from the ground up, and it was a great opportunity. In June of 2015, Katy Gerring and Julie Stroud, present Co-Directors of Employment Services, joined her side.

“Lisa, Julie, and I all had individualized strengths. We all meshed really well together due to our diverse backgrounds.” – Katy Gerring
"It was essential that we offer other choices in the community for clients, and Corvilla had a great reputation." – Lisa Kay
“I was excited to build a new department and establish new procedures and to lay a frame work for comprehensive and effect services to assist our clients in community employment.” – Julie Stroud

Discovery, Development, and Job Training

At the time, Employment Services only consisted of three specific areas: Discovery, Development, and Job Training.

Discovery is an area within Employment Services that allows a client who is first coming into our program to "discover" what they may be interested in doing job-wise. Often, our Employment Specialists at Corvilla will do assessments or work experiences at job sites to see what a client is capable of doing. We want to be sure each client doesn't rush into a position and, instead, takes the proper steps in selecting the best area of work for themselves.

Development is also an area within Employment Services. We have specific Employment Specialists who help "develop" work sites. It's not an easy task to cold call businesses, set up meetings, all to discuss why it's important for their establishment to consider hiring individuals with disabilities. The funny thing is, a lot of businesses we currently serve usually say the same thing, "why didn't we do this sooner?" In Development, this is also a time for clients to learn specific workplace readiness skills. Some of those skills consist of building resumes, proper communication with management, hygiene, etc.

Then there’s Job Training. Once a client gets a job, we have Employment Specialists who work closely with each individual to help them through the orientation process, on-the-job training for their positions, and being mediators between clients and their bosses, etc. This is where a client truly begins to believe in themselves.

Employment Services Today

The Employment Services department has grown from 3 people in June of 2015 to 25 people as of April 2020. We have since added Pre-Ets (Pre-Employment Transition Services) to our department in October of 2016. Pre-Ets focuses on helping young adults ages 18-22 years in area schools spanning across Elkhart and St. Joe counties. We currently serve 13 schools and focus on helping students gain skills in five specific areas. Those areas include:

  • Work-Based Learning

  • Self-Advocacy

  • Postsecondary Education

  • Workplace Readiness

  • Job Exploration.

This is a wonderful program that was started to help young adults transition more smoothly once they exited high school.

I think it’s safe to say our “colony” isn’t so little anymore! Every job or action helps our team and organization move forward; that’s why all these small departments within Employment Services are so important. Whether you’re the queen bee, drone, or worker bee, each of them contributes to building the hive and ensuring the survival of their species. Like the honeybee, we will protect our hive at all costs. Our Employment Specialists take pride in their work and want to continue to advocate for our clients and believe in them until they can believe in themselves. Without a doubt, bees are associated with hard work and diligence; just like our Employment Services Department.

Written by Ashley Hout, Program Development Coach

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