Our Mission: Create Opportunities for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their Families to Participate Fully in the Community

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Disability Employment Awareness Month and Preston Story October 1, 2021

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It’s a time to celebrate successes in integrated employment and what people of all abilities have to offer in the workforce. Over the years, people have been working to change systems, change laws and change attitudes. We are proud that DDRC and our Employment Services have been a part of this movement.

Preston at work at Advance Auto Parts 

Advancements include the opportunity for people with disabilities to do real work for real pay. Subminimum wage is no longer acceptable. People with developmental disabilities work alongside people without disabilities and have opportunities to advance like everyone else. Success has been furthered by Employment Specialists who help discover the interests and strengths of the people with disabilities they support, along with the business needs of each employer, so that a great job match is made. With that match comes increased job satisfaction, worker productivity and contribution, and many times, greater job longevity. Employers benefit from the value that diversity in hiring brings, adding new perspectives and experiences to benefit operations and enrich work culture. Employees gain economic flexibility, purpose, skills and human connections.

Preston’s Employment Journey  
Pursuing one’s passion and finding job fulfillment is not some faraway dream, not when you show openness and have support. It worked out for Preston, thanks to his interest and willingness to explore change and the support he received from DDRC’s Employment Services and Employment Specialist Andera Samuelson.

Preston worked for six years on a DDRC janitorial crew comprised of people with developmental disabilities. At the time, Preston considered this the maximum contribution he would make to the workforce. When COVID emerged, the segregated crew that Preston worked on was temporarily halted, but that disruption became a catalyst for change. Rather than reopening the crew when the situation was more manageable, it was clear that the right course of action was to work with each employee to understand their unique work goals and path forward. It was a time to put integrated employment into full practice.

Preston began working with Andrea to explore his interests and the strengths he brings to the workforce. As part of that discovery and job development process, it became apparent that Preston has a passion for automobiles. When Andrea took Preston to Advance Auto Parts, he lit up immediately and started educating her about all the auto parts! This was the spark she was looking for, the clue that this could be a career that Preston loves. With Andrea's support, Preston pursued a Parts Salesperson position and accepted a job offer with Advance Auto Parts.

Advance Auto Parts recognized the importance of working with Preston like any other employee on their team and have naturally built their relationship with Preston so that Andrea’s involvement can be limited to what Preston will truly benefit from. Advance Auto Parts is emphasizing their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and is working to engage employees with disabilities in their workforce. 

Preston has thrived in this chapter of his employment journey. The authentic fulfillment and job match he found is the vision that DDRC’s Employment Services team holds for all people with disabilities who choose to pursue employment goals.

If you’re looking to hire a qualified candidate or are a person with a developmental disability wondering about career opportunities that are right for you, reach out to DDRC’s Employment Services at 720.544.8114, or call DDRC’s Case Management at 303.233.3363 for suggestions to get started.