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They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Just ask Brandon. "I do cleaning every day, all day," he says with a broad smile. "I like it." Brandon takes pride in his work and has a specific method to his cleaning routine which his fellow employees at Washington City Hall have come to appreciate. It all started with a training program through ARC Human Services, Inc., which helps maximize the independence of adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
"We started in spring of last year with our guys going around on crews and cleaning up blighted properties in the City of Washington through a city contract," explains Aaron Wrubleski, Director of ARC's Employment Services. "When that slowed down, we realized that we needed a training site dedicated to cleaning since that was such a large focus of our individuals. We reached out to the city and we talked about City Hall and keeping the building clean." That now extends to the police department headquarters and eventually may include Citizens Library. It's a win-win relationship for the city and for ARC: Workers keep the city buildings spotless through paid internships with ARC Human Services. They get on-the-job training to eventually gain employment in the community. Brandon is a perfect example of how the process works. He recently became an official city employee and now works three days a week. Pride in his work and earning his own paycheck keep that big smile ever present on his face.
Brandon is not alone. ARC serves people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness, allowing them to fulfill their ambitions, protect their rights and foster meaningful relationships at home, at work and in their communities. ARC's programs and services enable clients to be more independent and increase their level of social, vocational, emotional and education functioning.
Wrubleski stresses that he tries to match client's job training and placement with their own personal interests. For example, Tim is in the training program at city hall as well and enjoys it because he likes being around people and especially those with ties to Washington and Washington High School. He also works at 84 Lumber and looks forward to completing his training and earning a good paycheck in the community.
Another client, Nicole, took part in ARC's Discovery Program which allowed her to eventually work at different locations around the community in an effort to help her figure out what type of employment she would like best.
Each member of the training program has a job developer attached to them to help determine long-term plans for employment. This has helped another client, John, find work that he truly loves. "I work at the shop most of the time," he says. "I'm pretty handy." John has been with the maintenance department at Arc Human Services for several years and travels with maintenance crew to sites around the county in need of repair. His ultimate career goal is to work in an environment that he truly loves: a tractor supply store.
"That's the goal of everything is to find the right fit," Wrubleski adds with a grin. "The guys joke with me about 'Forever Jobs'. Anybody can be taught a skill and how to work somewhere and hate their job every day. We look for careers for our guys. We try to find the perfect fit by matching their skills and interests." He adds that all of his clients take pride in their communities and, with specific training regarding their employment, are able to bridge that gap between just living in a community and becoming part of it.
Employment plays a part in full inclusion and the goal for all of ARC's clients is to become an active and valued member of their respective communities. That's why Brandon, Tim, Nicole and John all have those smiles on their faces each day and say they can't wait to get to work and to the jobs they love.