October 29, 2022
Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Sam Finds Her Dream Job
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Person Centered Services is passionate about helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities meet their career goals by connecting them to resources and opportunities in their communities.
At Person Centered Services, Care Coordinator Kelli Helmer ensures that Samantha “Sam” Sherman has the support she needs to find work in the Buffalo area that suits her perfectly. She has coordinated care for Sam for more than five years, empowering her as she pursues her dreams.
Sam was recommended for supported employment through Community Services for Every1. As part of a vocational services program, she works closely with a job coach to gain the skills she needs for employment success. She has learned how to use Metro rail transportation, communicate with coworkers and management, follow a shifting schedule, and gain mastery of specific job duties.
After successfully finishing her program, Sam was hired for her very first job in 2019 as a glass cleaner at the KeyBank Center. She was a first-rate employee, but when COVID-19 struck Buffalo, the KeyBank Center no longer held events in its arena. Sam was furloughed from her job, but she remained positive and productive. She kept up with her skills through a Virtual Job Club and eventually with in-person meetings. Her job coach was very supportive during this time and encouraged her to apply for new positions.
In July of 2021, Sam accepted a job at the Roswell Park Cancer Center in their Environmental Services Department. She has many responsibilities that keep the Roswell campus safe and clean. Her duties include trash removal and disposal, lab cleaning and sanitizing, replenishing of supplies, sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming in offices and meeting rooms, and moving medical waste bins to the correct areas.
“With support, Sam learned how to get to and navigate the campus, master a much larger scope of job tasks, communicate effectively with her managers, and make friends,” says Anne Furlani, Sam’s current job coach at Community Services for Every1. “She is a valued employee and well-liked by everyone. She has perfect attendance, checks in with management regularly during her shift, and is a true asset to the team.”
Everyone at Roswell is very appreciative of Sam’s work ethic and attitude. “Sam is very courteous, attentive, and happy,” says Suzanne O’Brien, Sam’s supervisor at the cancer institute. “She never gets complaints and keeps our laboratories clean.”
Tracy Curtin, Human Resources Manager at Roswell, echoes this sentiment. “Sam is a joy to be around,” she says. “She is always smiling and so happy to be at work. I couldn’t imagine our department without her. Sam works with some very well-respected doctors and scientists in their fields. They all speak very highly of her and the work she does.”
Rudy Campbell, Sam’s colleague in Environmental Services, also loves having her as a teammate. “She encourages me to work better,” he says. “She’s very dependable and generous.”
“Sam’s journey has been unbelievable,” says Michelle Zangerle, Assistant Director of Vocational Services at Community Services for Every1. “She has put herself out there. The risks have paid off. She has an amazing support system and is always encouraging others to try something new.”
Person Centered Services is honored to partner with places like Community Services for Every1 that offer job coaching and supported employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Care Coordinators like Kelli Helmer partner with local agencies to make sure that people like Sam can find jobs that are a perfect match for them.
“Kelli is on top of things,” says Sam about her Care Coordinator. “She makes things happen. If I didn’t have her help, getting into programs would be complicated and confusing.”
Coordinating care for Sam has been an exceptional experience for Kelli. “I have watched Sam grow so much over the past few years and I am so proud of her,” she says. “I have absolutely loved being a part of Sam’s journey.”
Person Centered Services is proud to coordinate care for so many amazing people who make a difference in their workplaces!