The Data.

Data plays an important part in the fidelity and growth of our work. Tracking outcomes gives us the ability to share our success in a way that looks concrete, less subjective.

Starfire Cincinnati Data Research

But data on its own is hopeless. That’s why we have stories to back our outcome of “Maintaining connections.” This data point looks a variety of ways, such as: lasting friendships, connections to coworkers, or close neighborhood ties. The basic idea is that we are helping people with disabilities connect to relationships with people without disabilities by supporting them in a role that matters to them.

What roles do you have in your life, and how does staying with these roles help you connect to meaningful relationships over time?

 

This is part of our Story Series, “Staying.” Subscribe and get this series in your inbox every week! 

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Four years later…

For the past 4 years, Michelle (see video below) has been meeting with a group of writers at a local coffee shop.

“I like the people, the high energy. People in this group are easy-going and great. In the – ‘nonjudgmental’ – great.”
– Michelle Dunford, Write Me, I’m Yours co-founder

The group originally connected as part of Michelle’s work with Starfire, where they did a writing project together. The project was to engage writers across the city by setting out journals at local coffee shops and inviting people to contribute. They called the project “Write Me, I’m Yours,” which is now also the name of their monthly writing group.

“I’m always the first one there. Everyone has their own unique poetry style. I get excited and nervous when I have to read because some of the stuff I write about can be dark.”
-Michelle

A few things I love about this story.

1) They stayed in touch after their project was through. Working on something cool and interesting together gave this group of writers the gift of lasting ties to one another. That’s why we spend a lot of our time doing projects just like Michelle’s in our work as community builders, it creates bonds that span time.

2) The effort is completely community-based and driven by the writers themselves. Outside of Starfire’s structure and support, without morphing into a “special needs” writing circle solely for Michelle and other people with disabilities, the group of writers made a commitment – to stay in each other’s lives year after year, while Starfire stood on the sidelines admiring.

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“Michelle is the glue that keeps the group together. Michelle is the core and things don’t feel right when she’s not there. There is no difference in how we conduct the circle. We don’t censor or adjust the agenda. She’s an integral part of the group.”
-Eva Lewandowski, Write Me, I’m Yours co-founder

3) They have some pretty amazing work coming out of their writing circle. Here’s one poem they worked on together with Cincinnati’s Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel.

“As far as I’m concerned, although I do blog and write articles, I don’t consider myself a writer. However, the writing circle has allowed me to tap into my creativity. But best of all, it’s provided me with a close circle of friends that wouldn’t have happened had this circle not existed.”
– Eva

Stories like this are at the top of our list – as beautiful examples of people coming together over shared passion, and making the most impressive commitment to one another: to stay.

p.s. A look back at 2014, when the “Write Me, I’m Yours” project was first led by Michelle!

 

This is part TWO of our Story Series, “Staying.” Subscribe and get this series in your inbox every week! 

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“Staying” – part one.

Starfire is launching a new Story Series, based on a certain theme every couple of months. We’ll break our story down in various ways: video, data points, and ways you can get involved.

The first Story Series theme is “Staying.” 

What does it mean to “stay?” Why is this important to our work in the community around people with disabilities? Read below or listen with Soundcloud to hear Tim Vogt’s 3-question interview on this series’ theme with me!

Katie: So, why is the concept of staying important to Starfire’s work?

Tim: There is a great quote by Wendell Berry, and he talks about the marriage vows and they are not for better and for richer and for health, they are for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health. He says that in staying we learn something closer to the truth which is that not everything in life is happy, and not everything in life is great. I think people with disabilities and their families that I know, relate that there is a great joy in life, especially when they get included and supported and loved in a way that we at Starfire hope that they could be. That continues to be a struggle for them and their families. So, if we can think about staying in solidarity, and in fraternity, and in relationship with people, we can be with them in that struggle, and it can lead to some good things, but it could be tough, many tough days.

I also think that when we think about “staying” we think about that same quote reminding us that there’s going to ups and downs and it might be tempting to leave. Leaving is an assumption that somewhere else is going to be better, but staying seems to be an invitation and a commitment to making this place better or this life better or this relationship better. So staying implies, in the depth of that concept, that I’m not just going to get out of here; I’m not going to leave you or this place. I am going to be here. There are going to ups and downs and good days and bad days, but I am still going to be here. So I think staying through those good days and bad days, and through the struggles and through the joys, and paying attention to the closer you get to the truth of what life is all about, what inclusion is all about.

Inclusion is not all happy and fun; it means I accept you as you are.

I believe you can do better, but I accept you as you are. And you belong already; there is no need for you to have to earn it or prove that you are valuable, more valuable than you already are, so the idea of stay relates to peace. It relates to rest; it relates to some sort of satisfaction, and it relates to time in a really great way that I chose to commit myself to people, or a place, or to an idea, in a way that just gives the long story a chance to unfold. People with disabilities have a really small degree of imagination of story and imagination around their lives. There is a very short story about disability. It fits in this box and goes here and these people go here and that is what defines their life. So it is not a very big story and if we can stay with people and help nurture and participate in their journey and struggle for a better life, then we can see that there is a better story. You have to stay to see that better story.

Katie: Is it important to talk about staying because that isn’t a common reality for people with disabilities for in their lives that people often do not “stay”?

Tim: Yeah, I mean, when we look at the people that we support and the people that we love and know with disabilities, we see a lot of leaving in their lives. You’ve got professionals that are in and out depending on their next job, or if they got fired or promoted or left. So, there’s this constant turnover. And if we’re being really honest, we hear that there’s a lot of absence of community and rejection sometimes for people with disabilities and their families. And, an absence and rejection is a leaving of sorts. Right? Like, you’re left alone. We’re outta here. We’re not gonna be with you anymore. So, when you’ve got a disability, you’ve got this turnover almost in your life. Your social stories are very short. People are in it for a few minutes or a few hours or a few weeks or months as professionals, they’re not really in it for a long period of time. So, the counter, the antidote would be staying, the people that are there for a long time.

There’s also just an interesting, I would call it a creative limitation, that people with disabilities and their families are inviting us into.

A lot of people I know who have disabilities can’t drive. And so, their mobility is limited. They might not be able up and move to a new city for college because college isn’t even an option. Or, they would lose their funding if they moved out of state. Or, the public transportation system doesn’t actually travel between cities, you know. So, the mobility of people with disabilities is really physically limited, and the options of moving about are limited. So, then if we’re asking the question, “How might someone with a disability have a good life?” one of the factors is we that we think the reality is they’re going to be limited in how they move about.

So, we would want to develop local networks and really have people who have stayed around them be part of the story, that would have known them for a long time. The last aspect of stay that I can think of that really matters is that staying relates to taking care of a place and the people in that place. So, there’s another great essay that Wendell Berry wrote about his family’s farm and the generations of his family that have taken care of that place. And there’s a, by taking care of that place, they’re taking care of the people around them and of that place too. So, people who take care of a neighborhood or take care of a block, or take care of a city; because they’ve lived there their whole lives, those are the kind of people who create a culture where somebody’s looking after the place and the people in it.

And, if we could have more people stay and own the caretaking of places, and root themselves deeply, they would grow big networks, and they would, over time, probably build a culture that was very conducive to the lives of people with disabilities and that culture.

 Katie: So, last question. Who do you think is called to stay? And, how do they do that?

 Tim: I think we’re all called to stay. However, I don’t think that any of us are required to stay. There are good reasons for moving on from relationships and places. You can’t afford it, or the person you’re committed to turns out not to be the person that you thought they were, and that’s dangerous. But, I think that the problem is that if we don’t leave the potential for staying open, then we don’t ever invest deeply. We don’t get to know the people around us because we’re already out the door. We’re buying this next house in order to flip it in five years, and move to a new place. So, why would we invest in each other? Why would we care about each other’s well-being? Why would we look out for our neighbors? Why would we bring flowers to the woman whose husband passed away across the street? Why would we, you know, get to know the kids on our block if we’re gonna be gone in a few years’ time? So, the temporary-ness that we start with is key. Or the permanency.

If we start with an idea that this might be a place that I stay, and we find out that it’s not, that’s great because the assumption was there to begin with, and we invested as if we were going to stay. I once met a woman who really challenged me on that. And she said, “I was a military kid. I had to move.” She said, “And, I’m still a military wife now.” And she said, “I still have to move.” And she said, “But every place I go, I invest like I’m gonna be there for the rest of my life.” That was awesome and beautiful.

She didn’t forego relationships, she didn’t create an absence in the neighborhood or in the families around her by assuming that she would be gone. She actively, intentionally said I’m going to invest, because I know I’m gonna be gone but I still need to take care of this place by investing in it as though I’m gonna live here myself.

So, if I’m a person with a disability and I don’t get to move, but everybody around me is flipping their houses every five years, and everybody is of the mindset that they’re outta here in a few years, then quickly my condition deteriorates, and I could be stuck. And, instead of staying, I’m stuck. Everybody around me – no one knows me. No one’s built a great garden that I can be a part of. Nobody knows when my birthday is. And, I’m not a part of their world either.

 

This is part of our Story Series, “Staying.” Subscribe and get this series in your inbox every week! 

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Integrated Employment Series #2

Read the first part of our Integrated Employment Series here

Spencer’s Job at Local Donut Shop

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“I’m ready to move into a community job. I feel pretty happy about leaving the workshop. I’m ready to go out into the community, and prove to them that I can go out in the community. I can make more money, work more hours, have much more fun, I love that. I’m excited I get to work with good people, and bring my food work ethic and enthusiasm to the table. It’s who I am. I get to show them what I’m made of.”

Danny’s Job at his Local Pub

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“It’s good here. I like helping other people. I think it’s really nice to see all my friends here. My favorite part of the job is making money.”

Erika’s Job as a Teacher Assistant at a Daycare

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“After the interview, I was thinking very positive. I felt nervous, but I felt like I had this. They called and said “Hey, by the way, congratulations you got the job. Would you like to come in to pick up your paperwork?” My job is to work with other teachers and if the other classrooms need help, I’m there. I see a brighter future for myself here.
Having a new experience come into my life, it’s like having a newborn baby. I’m happy. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to learning anything new. Learning is the key thing for me, so I know how to run the daycare with them.”

Mike’s job at Custom Cabinetry Business

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Chris’ Job at Downtown Bike Share

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“There’s a ton of things to do around here, and there were a lot of things that we would love to be doing but that were falling through the cracks or we weren’t able to take care of – and Chris has knocked that out for us. It’s been a huge help for us  – it’s provided a much cleaner shop and it’s allowed us to clean more bikes and keep the quality and the cleanliness of the bikes better. What we found at RedBike to really find that there’s a ton of opportunities for Chris to have a big impact, and he has.”

Joe’s Dream Job at the Zoo

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When I got in it was kind of exciting – really exciting. The main job I always wanted to have was to have a job at the zoo – and now I have it. But I’m still hoping to grow. I’m hoping to learn – to get some experiences. And I’m trying to get involved in some more stuff there. They have these internships — all different kinds of internships: feeding the animals, taking care of plants, teaching kids about animals in school groups, doing stuff like that. I’m in the process of reaching out. I’m happy about being here. I feel like it’s a good environment.

 

Follow our stories and learn more about our approach to getting more people with developmental disabilities into the workforce where they can contribute!!

Instagram.com/starfircincy

Facebook.com/starfirecincy 

http://www.starfirecouncil.org

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A letter from Jayla

Hello my name is Jayla and I’m 18 years old. My high school DePaul Cristo Rey  has a corporate work study program and this year they placed me to work at Starfire. At first, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I walked in a little nervous and quiet, but I also walked in with an open heart to new things. Back then I wasn’t totally sure but now I’m totally sure that I love this place. My whole outlook on Starfire changed as soon as I walked into the door of the building because everybody was so welcoming and nice.

Working at Starfire itself is fun but also cool because they made my view of everything broader. They fight for the same idea that I fight for which is social justice for marginalized people. I know that people with disabilities are isolated from the community, but I never fully paid attention how serious the situation is. People with disabilities are as human as people who don’t have a disability. They breathe the same air, so who is to say that they are different. I wish everybody was equal, this world would be a better place. Sad to say that the world we live in everybody is not equal. But what I’m proud about is that change is happening.

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This is Dylan, Tod, and me on the street car

I have enjoyed my time with Starfire because I got to connect and build relationships with people with disabilities.

“This job has to offer a lot you build relationships with others, but also opens up your mind to new ideas. Those ideas that come to you on this job will help you help others.”

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College Hill Café with me, Joseph and Michelle

I learned that certain battles I can’t fight and that I may have issues but other people may have a more intense issue everything isn’t just about me. Working here made me want to do more with the community and care for others. Even though you might be living with a disability, you are still someone who has a dream. Everybody has a story but with determination, humility and having a positive attitude you will be successful in life. If you don’t get anything out of this letter just remember this having a disability cannot keep you away from accomplishing your goals.

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A job and a life – Douglas’ Story

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Douglas is going on his 3rd year as an employee at one of Cincinnati’s most popular local establishments, Eli’s BBQ. He also has been working at Fireside Pizza for the past 2 years. Both restaurants are in/around the neighborhood of Walnut Hills, and that’s where Douglas lives.

When Douglas comes home from work – you can see the joy in the face, and the connection that has there now. He just glows,” Paula, Douglas’ mom.

Employment is an important part of life in America. “What do you do?” is one of the most common questions people ask when getting to know you. So when Douglas can answer back, “Eli’s and Fireside Pizza,” you can imagine how working this raises his status in any conversation.

Here’s a glimpse of what Douglas’ first year of employment looked like…

Awesome, right? But… a job is still a job. A paycheck is nice, but relationships are what make life truly rich. When we can have both a paycheck and a social life, life finds its sweet spot. So after our Connectors at Starfire helped Douglas get settled in his new paid roles, the further step was discovering relationships.

Douglas’ real, true interest “since he was tiny” is in movies. He might not share a lot in conversation, but when the topic of movies comes up, Douglas has a lot to add. So his Connector began reaching out to neighbors who like movies too. Now, several of his neighbors meet up bi-monthly (sometimes weekly) for movie nights (they all share a particular love for the Harry Potter series).

Slowly, these connections have started to show themselves in a “real community” way. This year, Walnut Hills held their annual StreetFest and as Douglas was walking there from his house – he bumped into Anne and Andrew (movie night friends) who were on their way there also. Immediately, they fell into conversation about movies as they carried on their way together to the festival. The simplest moments, like this one, can make all the difference in combating isolation so many people with developmental disabilities feel.

“It’s so hard these days to find real community – and here was real community right in our neighborhood!” his mother expressed. “To have these social connections – and to have that feeling that what he’s communicating is being received and understood – he’s really part of a group.”

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Anne, Andrew, and Douglas

Before Starfire, Douglas’ life looked a bit different, and we’re so happy he and his family have joined us on this journey to build community around his passions and in his local neighborhood.

Check out Landlocked Social House, Anne and Andrew’s Craft Coffee + Beer start-up on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/599834529/about

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Sam ties her new network of seamstresses to a cause. (Starfire Video)

Sam’s Story

Sam: We’re making baby bibs and burp clothes at silk road textiles for healthy moms and babes.

This year, Sam organized a group of women to make items for at risk moms and babies and enlisted her zumba classmates to donate baby items.

Sasha: I like that it’s staying in the community. You know it’s going to stay right here and help people around us. The best thing about Sam is just she’s so resilient, she doesn’t get frustrated she’s like “okay I will try again.”

Bridget: She took sewing classes at silk road textiles and she really enjoys sewing. So we saw this as an option to keep up the sewing skills and also to meet more people that enjoyed sewing

Sam: Thank you so much just for coming to help- see you the next time

Terry: Sam brings such joy and enthusiasm with her. So she’s part of the fabric of who we are, you know we knit stuff but we also knit community. Sounds kind of cheesy but it’s true.

Katie: What are you really looking forward to still?

 Sam: Helping them out, so like giving them their stuff. What we’re donating.

Wow! This is amazing! Thank you!

Sam continues sewing with the women at silk road textiles and collecting baby items to donate.

March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month. This story is part of NACDD’s ‘Learning Side by Side’ #DDawareness17 series. Follow us on social media to see all of our stories throughout the month!

Learn more: http://www.starfirecouncil.org

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Quilting Together – Andrea’s Story (Starfire Video)

Maryann: You can present your quilt to Carolyn

Andrea learned to quilt in Mary Ann’s home sewing room

Carolyn: This is awesome are you happy with it?

Maryann: When she saw this quilt coming together she started dancing. I said “stop dancing, and get sewing.”

Carolyn: That’s why we as quilters- that’s why we get hung up on it because we now know what the finished product can look like and were like. “Okay keep working, keep working.”

Maryann: Does it feel happy that you did all the hard work, all those hard days sitting there sewing and then you saw it all come together?

Andrea: Umhm

Maryann: And now you get to bring it into this wonderful place to have it quilted. This was a smaller simpler quilt because it was her first quilt and even that quilt was a lot of work don’t you think?It’s been a good experience I’m so proud of her.

March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month. This story is part of NACDD’s ‘Learning Side by Side’ series. Follow us on social media to see all of our stories throughout the month!

Learn more: http://www.starfirecouncil.org

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2019 Strategic Plan: An Update

It’s been 7 years since Starfire set out on a plan as an organization to change the way we support people with developmental disabilities. Our goal was to build a model of support that aligned our impact with our original vision: to build richer social lives for people with developmental disabilities. How we’ve grown during this transition. It’s enough to write a book.

Today, we’ve gone from a place that supported people with disabilities on outings and in day programs, in groups, mostly set apart from the richness of ordinary community life, to a culture-building movement that puts people with developmental disabilities (as individual selves) at the very center of community life.

Reading back on our Strategic Plan set all those years ago now, it’s surprising to find how well each of these statements have held up over time. Not only has each line of this Plan made it through the transition out of 3 segregated programs, a massive flood to our building, and a whole lot of coffees with citizens, funders, families, and volunteers to explain the “why” of all this change, but they have truly served as the guideposts that we hoped them to be.

Here, I’d like to share those statements with you, and our progress to date on each one. You’ll notice the five categories are based directly off of John and Connie Lyle O’Brien’s Five Valued Experiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everyone who believed in us to make it this far.

*Oh… and please excuse the targety outcome jargon, one of the things we are using this document for is to share with other organizations how we made this transition. 

Sharing Places

In 2019, people with disabilities will share places in their local communities with other community citizens.

People with disabilities will be “regulars” at ordinary places, and be known by others. Sharing places will become the springboard for building relationships and making contributions.

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Recommendation #1:    Decrease in the use of facility-based services

Targets:  Transition fully out of facility-based, group-centered Outing and Day Programs (Dec 2012-2016)

Action Steps:

  • Decrease membership in each program gradually until closing date (Sept 2016)

Recommendation #2: Increase in integrated community-based employment and day services

Targets: Build capacity for providing 300 hours per week of integrated services by trained community connector staff (Dec 2016)

Action Steps:

  • Hire staff with desired attributes to be “community connectors” (Dec 2012-present
  • Increase people served to achieve 300 hours per week of integrated services (Jan 2017)

Making Choices

In 2019, Starfire members will make choices about the levels and ways they connect to Starfire and their communities.

Person‐centered tools, approaches and practices will become the standard for people with disabilities to explore options. People with disabilities will create a “safety net of people” that support and stand by each other as they make important choices.

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Recommendation #1: People with disabilities served complete a person-centered visioning session in first year of membership to Starfire (Benchmark #1: PATH meeting)

Targets: 67% of people on track to do a person-centered plan to complete one

Action Steps:

  • Families attend and support PATH goals
  • At least 3 ordinary citizens attend and support PATH goals

Making Contributions

In 2019, people with disabilities will be known as “pillars of the community.”

People with disabilities will have many opportunities to find and explore unique ways they can make contributions to their community and other community citizens. Starfire’s success will be determined by how many members fill “valued roles” in the community.

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Recommendation #1: Increased use of career discovery processes

Target: 15% of people served

Action Steps:

  • Create personalized electronic profiles to share with Starfire’s network
  • Conduct benefits analysis with interested people served as needed
  • Utilize persons served social network to explore employment opportunities

Recommendation #2: Focus on the achievement of individual integrated services for individuals with complex needs

Target: 100% of people served receive integrated services

Action Steps:

  •  Each person is supported approximately 136 hours per year around their personal goals and passions

Recommendation #3: People served attaining valued social roles (paid or unpaid positions in the community) that align with their interests, geographic location, and strengths (Benchmark #2: Valued Social Role attainment)

Target: 80% of people served attain a valued social role (internship, job, volunteer position, etc)

Action Steps:

  • Staff support people served in navigating and meeting with existing places and opportunities for valued roles

Growing in Relationships

In 2019, Starfire members will create relationships with other community citizens who share places, passions and interests.

Starfire members will invite people to grow friendships with each other based on mutual respect and affection. Commitment, conversation and consistency will be the foundation for building solid, supportive relationships.

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Recommendation #1: People build a “network of support” that includes people who are not family, unpaid, and do not have disabilities. (Benchmark #3: Increase relationships to ordinary citizens)

Targets: 90% see an increase in their community relationships annually

80% maintain relationships over the course of 12 months

Action Steps:

  • Staff support people served in meeting with new people and connections weekly

Recommendation #2: Educate and engage families on the work of building stronger social networks for their loved ones   

Target: 80% of families are reported to be actively engaged in building social networks

Action Steps:

  • Partner with local family support organization, Good Life Networks to prop up families in the journey
  • Meet bi-annually to discuss progress in building social connections with staff and person served

Recommendation #3: Educate and Engage Ordinary Citizens

Target: 200 citizens annually have deeper understanding around inclusion

Action Steps:

  • Invite ordinary citizens to participate in community building through projects, social, or volunteer opportunities in partnership with a person with disabilities

Experiencing Respect

In 2019, membership in Starfire is a way that people demonstrate and communicate that they are committed to building a vibrant, inclusive community.

Each story written or told about (and by) Starfire reflects respect for the gifts and contributions of its members. People who join Starfire experience the respect of being valued and appreciated for their capacities and contributions to other citizens of greater Cincinnati.

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Recommendation #1: Increase in staff competencies and skills related to integrated employment and community services.

Target: 100% staff trained on the core competencies of our work

Action Steps:

  • Professional development trainings including: Asset Based Community Development, Trauma informed care, Five Valued Experiences
  • Staff attend 3-day intensive trainings on Social Role Valorization within first year of employment
  • Staff attend 2-day summary training on Social Role Valorization bi-annually

 

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#olmsteadaction

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Integrated Employment Series (# 1) #olmsteadAction

Jobs are an important part of people’s lives. Yet statistics show that only 18% of people living with the label of developmental disability are employed in the US (Or said another way, 82% of people with developmental disabilities are not in the workforce). Starfire is working to change that picture. We are doing this by building people’s social connections. Landing a job often comes down to “who you know,” but the average person with developmental disabilities only has a network of 2 community relationships (unpaid, non-family, people without disabilities). At Starfire, 92% of the jobs attained with our support come directly from social connections, so we know our approach is working, even though it makes us a little different. We don’t invest people’s time and efforts on repetitive “job training readiness” such as mock interviews, resume building, or piecemeal work. Instead, we help people be “known” for their gifts and passions, so that when they apply for a job, their proven abilities are at the forefront of employer’s minds. Here are a few stories showcasing this approach.

Becky’s Story – SAF Holland

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“Before I was pretty much just sitting on the couch not doing much. I was just really cut off. It got a little more real like as time went on. And I was like, I want to get out there. A lot of people at Starfire helped me out with getting my job and they had a lot of confidence that I would be able to do it and they were like, ‘this is you, so you need to get out there and you know, show ’em.’.. Now I got stuff to do and I’m not sitting there bored, so I’m busy and that’s what I like to do.”

Megan’s Story – Mt. Washington Rec Center

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Celebrating Megan’s 2nd year of integrated employment!

Molly’s Story – Neyra Industries, Inc.

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“I love working with the team that I’m on. Everyone knows my name, everybody’s very friendly there.”

“It has been a pleasure having Molly here. She’s always so considerate and she always remembers little tidbits about people. She’s able to help get a lot of the administrative duties out of the way. So it’s helped free up a lot of their time to make our process in finances more efficient.” – Molly’s supervisor

Emily’s Story – Ensemble Theater

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“I got the job when my friend Ben from Ensemble Theater called up Starfire and was like, ‘Where’s Emily at?’ He was worried about me. I’d been volunteering for 2 years hanging up posters for plays and taking tickets during the shows. But I wasn’t able to get a ride down there anymore, and my mom couldn’t drive me down there at night because she can’t see very well.

Before Ben called I was looking for a job for 2 months. I turned in a lot of applications but it’s a lot of ‘college people’ who are getting hired – instead of calling me back. But when Ben called he asked me if I wanted a job and said, ‘yes’! I wanted that job! And he said okay. I freaked out! I was very happy.  

This is my first job. The number one thing I’m looking forward to is working, and if I make some money I’ll get a laptop since we don’t have a computer at home. And I like being at a theater. I’ve been listening to musicals since I was in high school, that’s how I got into theater in the first place.

It makes me very, very happy that I know people down there.”

Mike’s Story – Contemporary Cabinetry East

Craig’s Story – Kinetic Vision

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“I was at a workshop before. It was different since it was piece meal work. We had to do different tasks each day. I felt like I had to go really fast because you only get paid by the work you complete. One time at the workshop I got yelled at for going too fast. I didn’t know it, but they were low on product and they wanted to share the work around to make sure everyone got some. In my head I was just thinking, ‘I want to make some good spending cash so I’ve got to go fast.’

I quit the workshop when I got the job at Kinetic Vision. It felt really good. I like it more here because of the culture – and I get an hourly wage. I don’t have a staff always watching over my shoulder. Everybody’s nice. The boss doesn’t sound or act like bosses typically do. Every once in a while they have food trucks come and in the summer we grill out – us employees get to enjoy that. Employees will bring their kids down and other family members down.

They listen to what I say and they like the work I do. I’ve actually been showing them stuff. I feel like I’m valued.” 

Adam’s Story – Everything But The House

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“My last job was only temporary. I wanted to find other employment. It was just overwhelming. And I didn’t have my weekends off. Here the job level is just perfect for me. I load trucks and have them sent out. It’s different. It’s a fast paced environment which is really cool.

My boss likes having me here. He’s extremely laid back, he likes what he’s been seeing out of me. He’s just a really cool person to be with.

The best part is being able to get back in the workforce and get some money in my pocket. And I’ve been meeting a lot of new people. I hope to be there for a long time. Stick around and get to know more people and help the company grow. Help it be a well-rounded business. When I get my paycheck I’m going to probably let it sit in the bank and earn a bunch of interest.”

Congratulations to Adam (pictured middle) – who recently landed a job at a place he loves that’s in his neighborhood.

Follow our series on employment and learn more about our approach to getting more people with developmental disabilities into the workforce where they can contribute!!

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