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Showing Up for Those We Support

Graphic, title: Showing Up for Those We Support; two photos one of two men working together in hardware store, the second with one man standing and smiling in front of Joseph's Hardware.
November 06, 2020

When the pandemic reached the U.S. back in March, the lockdowns left Jeff unable to work for several weeks. His job was in the food service industry so, just like many others experienced, the initial shutdowns were hard on Jeff’s bank account and his day-to-day life.

As COVID-19 continued to upend the economy, it became clear that it was time for Jeff to move on. Not just because of the current limitations, but also because it had never been a good fit for him.

When asked about what this was like for him, Jeff shared, “I went a little stir crazy. I like to stay busy and go to work.” He added, “I was burned out on the food industry (too).”

It was time for Jeff to find work that he truly loved

That’s where Career Consultant, Jesse Albertson, came in. The pair would meet outside in the early summer to talk about Jeff’s goals for a new position and any restrictions they may have to navigate. “Then it was time to hit the pavement on my end and start having the conversations that lead to employment,” Jesse added. “(In the meantime), I supported Jeff in building a resume, and we did over-the-phone, mock interviews.”

Their hard work paid off when Jeff was able to secure a Paid Work Experience (PWE), which is similar to an internship, at Joseph’s Hardware in Fort Collins. PWEs are made possible through the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to support adults with disabilities in gaining the skills required to be successful in a new job.

Jeff said, “It felt great,” when he found out about the PWE at Joseph’s. He recommends that any job-searchers out there should “keep calm and stay positive.”

Working with a “can-do” attitude

Jeff has been at Joseph’s since the beginning of September and he is, “loving it.” He comes in two afternoons each week to restock the shelves and help keep the store organized.

photo of hardware store item sheets, showing how much information Jeff has to scan in order to do his job.

This is an extremely detail-oriented position; Jeff must match multiple item numbers in order to be sure he is stocking items correctly.

He pushes his cart of items around the store and keeps his magnifying glass in his back pocket. That way he can always read those pesky numbers.

Jeff will even notice when a tag in the store has moved from where it should to be! His eye for detail is truly impressive!

photo of Jeff using his magnifying glass to read an item tag while working

When he first started, Jesse would join him for his shifts to help Jeff  master his new responsibilities. By the end of the month, they agreed that it was “getting awkward” and Jeff no longer needed Jesse’s support on the job.

“Jeff has a can-do attitude,” Jesse said when asked what he most admired about Jeff’s work ethic. “He is always up for a challenge and does well taking any necessary, constructive criticism that allows him to be a better employee.”

photo of Jeff reading his clipboard and reaching into his cart to grab an item

Looking forward

Now, Jeff is looking forward to transitioning to a payroll employee in a couple of months. “In my conversations with the owner, it seems Jeff will have no issue starting on their payroll,” Jesse said. “I believe Jeff will have no issues proving to management the value of his work.”

Jeff said his favorite part about coming to work is “working with friendly people in a nice environment”. Jesse added, “(Jeff is) a joy to be around. He’s very quickly developed positive relationships that will no doubt be great natural supports for him.”

One day, Jeff hopes to be in a place where he can “retire and relax”. Until then, he’ll be surrounded by a supportive community, both at work and at home.

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