When 28 year-old Tricia found Edge Employment in October of 2019, she had obtained a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies from Spalding University just a few months prior. Due to a tumultuous history with Vocational Rehabilitation, Tricia was both excited at her work prospects while also hesitant about seeking out another “service” for employment representation. In fact, the first provider she partnered with suggested she take her degree and apply it to bagging groceries at her local Kroger. Though she knew some people might thrive in that position, Tricia had fought for her degree and wanted to put it to use.
Edge Employment Specialists utilize Marc Gold & Associates’ process of Discovery to uncover a job candidate’s naturally occurring interests, contributions, and conditions for success through structured time spent together. An Employment Specialist joined Tricia in the spaces where she typically spent time- officiating swim and dive meets, volunteering to teach adults to swim, and interviewing friends and family who know Tricia best. While officiating, Tricia displayed unbroken focus and communication with other staff for hours on end; volunteering, Tricia revealed her patience and attention to details of a process; in interviews, Tricia’s Employment Specialist discovered her helpfulness and success with self-management.
At the end of Discovery, Tricia and her Employment Specialist invited important people in her life to join them in a meeting to strategize around potential employers. One of these contacts invited Tricia to interview with the company where she worked- Visionworks. Tricia’s Employment Specialist was allowed in the interview to offer supplemental information to the interviewers. Tricia was hired for a part-time position as an Optimetric Technician in Visionworks’ reception and pre-test areas. While her Employment Specialist helped to draft a training and onboarding plan, Tricia was independent on the job from day one. Due to her expertise, she was promoted to full-time with benefits after just four months on the job!
At 26 years old, Gabby exemplifies the importance of job growth for workers with disabilities. When asked what Gabby might do for work in the beginning of her employment journey, her family and friends suggested that she tear tickets at a nearby theater. After spending time with an Edge Employment Specialist, however, Gabby’s list of potential contributions was revealed to include digital editing using Photoshop, iMovie, and Microsoft Suite, social media management, and amateur photography.
With the right representation, Gabby was hired, first, as a part-time Social Media Manager for a local paint-and-sip studio. When the studio owner later had to pivot and absorb Gabby’s tasks into a full-time management role, she and her Employment Specialist found her work, next, as an Office Assistant for a notable event coordination company. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the event coordination company unfortunately had to close its doors.
With two years of excellent experience under her belt, finding Gabby’s next job would have been a breeze if not for the effects of COVID-19. After her Employment Specialist put out a call for employers with a local chamber, Christy Smallwood with Eagle Eye Strategies responded. While learning about Customized Employment, Christy saw a photo of Gabby and gasped, “I know her!” Apparently, the event coordination company was a client of Christy’s and she had spoken to Gabby in their office on numerous occasions. She asked to hear more about Gabby and her skills, happily surprised to learn that Gabby had the knowledge and experience she was looking for in her own business. After Christy showed the Employment Specialist what she needed, it was determined that Gabby’s skills and Christy’s needs were a match. Gabby was hired by Eagle Eye Strategies to work remotely as a Digital Content Specialist, editing Christy’s podcast and crafting custom social media posts. After just three months on the job, her weekly hours were increased and she was awarded a raise!
Emma explored many career interests with Edge Employment including visual and digital art, cosmetology, theater, and child care. She had experience with pet and child care but like most young people, wanted to explore all the possibilities before making her choice. In the end, Emma chose for her Employment Specialist to pursue digital art and child care.
Attending their weekly Zumba class, Emma and her mom noted that the YMCA near their home was hiring Childcare Attendants. Her Employment Specialist followed up, telling the hiring manager about Emma and setting up a time for the three of them to meet. Emma, with interview support, landed a negotiated role that kept her in the classroom 20 hours per week and relieved her from welcome desk responsibilities. Both Emma and the YMCA got what they were looking for!
Sebastian is a young adult (28 years old) born in New York City. His parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He is bilingual and can speak both English and Spanish, Sebastian struggles with communication due to his autism. Instead, he does a great deal of his communication through his art. Sebastian has created art from a young age, his mother is a creative person and Sebastian was always encouraged to draw and paint. His amazing abilities in art were identified by his middle school’s art teacher and he continued his art education in a high school art program and community college.
When preparing for his career goals in high school, he and his mother were not inclined to look for some typical job. Sebastian’s art improved every year and the idea that he could sell his art helped the family decide that being self-employed as an artist was the way to go. Knowing there would be a lot of work involved not just for Sebastian, but for his family and supporters, partnering with Mattingly Edge was an important part of the preparation for the journey.
Now, several years later, Sebastian has his own art business, registered with the city and state. He has a website – SebastianDuvergeStudios.com – where people can purchase his original art as well as prints of the originals. He has a social media presence and makes weekly posts updating his followers with news and images of his beautiful, colorful art. Sebastian has taken part in several prestigious art shows and festivals and his art has traveled the state of Kentucky.
Sebastian has a studio at Louisville’s acclaimed Art Sanctuary and he has made connections with fellow artists there and elsewhere in Louisville. As of 2021, Sebastian’s art has been juried and he is now a Kentucky Crafted vendor! Kentucky Crafted is a state-wide program designed to promote the best in Kentucky’s art… it’s kind of a big deal!
Sebastian has been able to do all of this mostly with his innate talent in visual arts, but also with the support of a team, including an Employment Specialist who used the Systematic Instruction training all Edge Employment Specialists receive to help Sebastian hone and organize his skills. Thanks to Sebastian’s ability and this support, he is on his way to his best year ever as a respected and self-employed Kentucky artist.