2018 APSE National Conference

Daily Companions employee, Cathy Lee Irizarry-Barron attended the APSE National Conference at Disney Coronado Springs in Florida.  APSE stands for “Association of people Supporting Employment 1st”.  A wide variety of workshops were offered to participants.  Cathy Lee states “I learned a great deal from each of the seminars I attended.  With over 140 different seminars offered over the 2 1/2 day event, it was hard to narrow my choices down to the 4 sessions each day, 10 sessions total.”

Cathy Lee choose “Effectively Working with Businesses to Increase Employment for People with Significant Disabilities” as one of her first seminars.  More effective ways to approach and re-approach businesses was taught. She learned the 30 second “Elevator Speech”, and the importance of developing a common interest with the employer as a crucial factor in getting them to open the door for consumers to become part of their workforce.  “We must create connections with employers in order to develop opportunities for Employment First”.

The Cintas Way

Cathy Lee continues “another significant seminar I attended was “Culture Based Hiring – The Cintas Way”.  Cintas, a nationwide employer, has developed a “Disability Inclusion Program” in partnership with Viaquest.  Cintas believes that since the clients they serve are diverse, the employees serving them need to be equally diverse.  Cintas does not address their workforce as employees.  Every person working with Cintas is a “Partner”, which recognizes their Diversity and Inclusivity.  ViaQuest presenter, Jason, stated businesses with “Diversity Team” have employees that perform better, the businesses become “Employers of Choice” (people WANT to work there), they become preferred Business Partners.  Businesses also have a higher employee retention rate, and have a reputation for being socially responsible in their communities.  It has been said many times that “Disability is the only stigma that transcends every Race, Creed, Sex, Religion, Language, and Continent”.  Cintas recognizes this and is moving forward in all its locations nationwide (121 so far, with more to come, including WV).  Stay tuned for more information!

UPS Transitional Learning Center

Fed Ex in Louisville, KY is also paving the way for individuals with disabilities through their UPS Transitional Learning Center.  Cathy Lee had the opportunity to meet Bryce Clayton from UPS, his mother and Job Coach, Heidi, and his Employment Specialist, Libby Gootee of Options Unlimited, Inc.  Together, they have worked with Bryce, supporting him at Fed Ex.  Fed Ex has developed a 2 week program in which attendees learn to maneuver within the plant, where to ask for clarification on the job, as well as knowing their rights on the job.  By having this specialized training, the new workers have the skills necessary to effectively perform their job, and know whom to ask should they need some extra help.  Libby states this program has been mutually beneficial to all.  The program has been so successful for Bryce, that after 3 years on the job he was recently promoted to a Supervisor, meeting his career goal with UPS.  Bryce credits his success to being part of an employment team targeted towards his success.  Bryce was recognized at the APSE Conference as being the recipient of the “Personal Achievement Award” of the year as voted by APSE Members and Conference participants.  Bryce is a shining example to everyone of pushing through to making one’s Dreams Come True.  He strives to give back to the workers he supervises, and to be a positive role model.

Meaningful Life

Cathy Lee says “one of the most thought provoking seminars I attended was “Meaningful Life”.  There was so much to learn in this seminar about helping others find purpose.   I could not sum it up better than John McKnight who said “Our goal should be clear.  We are seeking nothing less than a life surrounded by the richness and diversity of community.  A collective life.  A common life.  A powerful life that gains its joy from the creativity and connectedness that comes when we join in association as citizens to create an inclusive world”.

Lastly “all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney