Guest Blog by Jeff Akin
DHS|OHA Imaging and Records Management Administrator
“What do you mean we have a pallet of mail to open? And there’s more coming?”
Sometimes, the realization you’re in over your head and that you need help slaps you across the face like a… well, like a pallet of mail! The office I work in processes various types of mail that is sent to the Oregon Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority. This mail, Oregon Health Plan applications, Medicaid billing claims, Employment Related Day Care payment vouchers and more, is opened, sorted, scanned and processed for electronic workflow. These are critical pieces of mail that directly impact Oregonians. So, you can imagine our panic when the incoming mail far outpaced the number of people we had to process it!
We reached out to the Employment First program for help. They were able to match us with 9 people that had the skills to help us out with our mail problem. In addition to having the skills we needed and the desire to work, these people had intellectual and developmental disabilities. They took to the work right away! Within a few days they were making a significant dent in the mail. It didn’t take long at all for them to become an integral part of our team.
Why reach out to Employment First? Why seek out people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for employment? Simple – dignity. People want to enjoy their work; they want to do work that makes a difference. We had an opportunity to provide that to people; people that had connected with Employment First because of their desire to work. A job provides a paycheck, but for an employer to offer dignity and purpose in addition to that… well, that’s what I believe we’re here to do.
Some time has passed since we first hired our team of 9 people. Since then, four of them have been promoted, one into a different office. They add to the fabric of our daily work lives by serving on our safety committee, our fun committee and participating in process improvement initiatives. I am confident we made the best possible decision when we hired them, and I know this because of this quote that one of our team members says on a nearly daily basis: “This is the best job I’ve ever had. I just love coming to work every day!”
To learn more from Jeff and other local Inclusion Leaders about how you can make your workplace more inclusive, register and attend Amplify! Success on October 23rd, 9-1pm at Nike WHQ in Beaverton. The high-energy, inspiring morning includes breakfast, lunch, professional breakout sessions, Keynote Speaker Karen Gaffney and more!
Amplify! Success is a program of Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.
For more information or to become a Sponsor of Amplify! Success 2018, contact Amplify! Event Coordinator, Cindy Bahl at: 503-258-7715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.