By Stephanie Kocer
Here at ALLY People Solutions, one of the questions we get asked most often is, what’s next?
What opportunities do individuals with intellectual disabilities have in their communities once they leave a transition program? There is no simple answer to this, which is why ALLY is there to help.
Sam Amundson came to ALLY after leaving his transition program about a year ago and is currently in the process of finding employment in the community with the help of ALLY’s Employment Services Team. The goal is to find Sam part-time employment, where Sam can utilize his unique skills.
Over the last year, ALLY employment consultant Wolf Tattenbach has been working with Sam’s family and support systems to determine what the best next step is for Sam. Currently, Sam has been working several volunteer positions to practice his job skills, including a gig as the volunteer team manager for the University of Northwestern’s football team. He’s held the position since 2017.
Sam helps with setting up and taking down equipment for the team. He attends every practice and supports the team during home and away games. Sam has even traveled across the country with the team for a weekend game.
When he’s not helping the Eagles, Sam is also the fitness center custodian at Episcopal Homes, where he vacuums, cleans equipment, and takes out the trash. He was also a volunteer custodian at Awaken Church during his transition program. In his free time, he can be found cheering on his sisters at their volleyball games and enjoying any sort of sport with a ball. Sam is also a huge music fan and often listens to music on his iPod. His favorite is Heavy Metal. He usually listens to music when he’s at his cleaning job, because it helps him focus.
The question of what’s next has come up a lot with Sam and his family lately. It’s ALLY’s goal to find Sam a paying position with a minimum to prevailing wage, where he can work a few days a week. The challenge now is finding the right position that fits Sam’s individual needs. Sam and the Employment Team have worked hard to determine what his best skills are for the working world, taking into consideration his personal hobbies and interests.
Tattenbach explains that it’s a process because of the obstacles Sam has had to overcome, such as his unique communication style. “ALLY was able to leverage his skills and show all the skills he has and can use,” Tattenbach says.
The challenge is finding a place of work that will allow him to work at his own pace and have his Personal Care Assistant (PCA) with him to help keep Sam on task.
Sam is very focused on doing a good job with any volunteer work he’s done and with his work with the Northwestern football team. He responds well to praise and handles constructive criticism well. ALLY is confident Sam has the right skills to land a paying gig soon.
ALLY’s Employment Services Team is committed to helping Sam find the perfect employment that fits with his schedule and skills. The ongoing process of helping individuals with intellectual disabilities can be challenging at times, but ALLY believes everyone deserves a chance to use their strengths and to work in their communities.