Self Discovery Leads to Enjoyment through Employment

Like most of us, Tim wanted to find his dream job. Something that would allow him to showcase his talents and skills while doing what he truly enjoyed. The ReHabilitation Center’s Employment Connection program, and his job coach, Beth, were able to help him do just that.

Three years ago Tim was an assembly worker at Subcon and was eager to find a different job in the Olean community.  He began his job search by participating in the Pathway to Employment program with staff from Subcon.  Through the program’s ‘Discovery’ process, he learned about his strengths, personal interests, and level of supports he would need to succeed.  He completed a variety of exploration activities including interviews with people close to Tim — family, friends, roommates, past employers, and staff — and career exploration through hands-on work and volunteer experiences.  Tim chose to try work unloading the truck at Loaves and Fishes food pantry, doing dishes at Union Tea, and landscaping/outdoor work/painting and bench assembly at JCC.  He learned again how much he liked being outside, and wanted to paint again.

Taking what he learned from these experiences, Tim was offered the opportunity to enroll in the OPWDD Employment Training Program (ETP). This program offers two incentives for employers to give Tim a chance to work – he is paid by NYS OPWDD for a period of time; and, both he and the employer have the benefit of Beth’s supportive coaching services.

Beth took a detailed look at Tim’s likes and dislikes, his hobbies and interests, in an effort to find a placement that was best suited for him. “This process is very important, because it helps us in finding employment the person actually likes, instead of just finding a job and plugging them into it,” said Beth. “We find they are much more successful and vested as a result.”

With Beth he has participated in several more workplace assessments including stocking shelves at Worth W. Smith, cleaning plant trays for Canticle Farms, and also was an ‘actor’ in a Pathway video for OPWDD. For that project he assisted with the disassembly of a park bench and prepped it for painting. In doing this, Tim learned that he enjoys working outdoors and with tools, prefers to be moving around and active, and wants to be part of a team.  “He really likes being around people,” said Beth

Tim’s current position as a ‘waver’ with Liberty Tax fits all of these criteria. Beth approached Liberty Tax and inquired if they would be interested in interviewing him. The rest was history. In fact, Tim hasn’t missed a day of work since January, and loves what he does. “He shows up rain, snow, sleet or shine,” said Beth. “He walks most days from his home in Olean.”

“I love working here. I like meeting so many different people, and the money doesn’t hurt.” said Tim with a smile when asked how he likes his job. “Sometimes people can be obnoxious when they are driving by, but I don’t let it bother me.”

The process hasn’t been without its challenges. “Tim hates to get up,” laughed Beth. “But making money is very important to him.”

You can see Tim waving the Liberty Tax sign on State Street Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The position is seasonal and will end in April, but Tim has another opportunity lined up at Canticle Farms that starts in the spring.

When he isn’t working, Tim attends the agency’s day program, likes to play poker and enjoys outdoor activities.  “I like Pokémon Go, basketball, football and hockey,” said Tim. He attended his first Bonaventure game this year and loved it. He has lived in an agency residence for over 5 years and has friends from both rehab center programs and the community, and a big family in Ellicottville.

Although they weren’t all an ideal fit, Tim’s work experiences gave him further insight on what he wants personally and professionally. Our job coaches and other staff are honored to be a supportive part of this process. Click Here learn more about our Employment Connection program.

Life of service is a family tradition

Longtime employee shares experiences from a life of service

As a child, Carolyn would go to work with her mom as she provided care in nursing homes and human service agencies. As an adult, Carolyn credits those experiences for her comfort level with all types of people, regardless of ability level.

Carolyn has worked for The Rehabilitation Center for almost 20 years in several areas of direct support. She began in residential, until she took a supervisor position in our SubCon work center. She held that position for 8 years until a back injury prevented her from continuing. She transitioned to our Lifeskills program in Allegany, and then to Day Hab in Salamanca. The Day Hab position wasn’t an ideal fit for Carolyn. “I loved the people I worked with, but being in one room with the same people every day wasn’t for me,” she said. She switched to part time and took a position as a CNA with Olean General Hospital. “I loved working as a CNA, because I am so nosy,” she laughed.

Although Carolyn enjoyed working at the hospital, she missed the people at The Rehab Center. When Allen, her current supervisor, approached her about an opening in our recreation program she applied. Much to her surprise she was offered the position. As a recreation leader, Carolyn’s duties consist of researching, planning, and recruiting participants to attend supervised trips and activities.  It’s a perfect fit, because it keeps her moving, working with different people at various locations in and outside of the community. “I am not one to sit behind a desk,” says Carolyn.

Carolyn and a group on a recreation outing. Eating dinner at Olive Garden before a Sabres Game!

Carolyn still fills in as needed in the residences, with her favorite being Buffalo Road, which she calls “home.” “The people there are like family to me,” says Carolyn. “I joke with them, and make them feel comfortable. This morning one guy was giving me a really hard time, he just didn’t want to get up and go to program,” she said, “so I just kept joking and laughing with him, and eventually he got up.”

As her mother did, Carolyn makes sure to include her kids and grandkids in agency activities, and often brings them to Buffalo Rd. “I don’t want them to be scared or uncomfortable around different types of people or those with disabilities,” she says. Her children have all worked for the agency at some point, and her niece still works at one of our residences. “They were awesome, they all jumped right in and loved it,” said Carolyn. Her siblings also work in human services. “It just runs in our family. It’s something we grew up with and what we do.”

When asked what advice Carolyn would give to someone who has not had these experiences. She says, “Don’t be afraid, they just want to be treated like anyone else. Teach your kids when they see others who are different, to make them feel comfortable. Know that they aren’t contagious or scary.”

Carolyn also credits her time with the agency for making her more aware in everyday life. She gave an example about an experience while on a recreation trip in Lake George;

While out dancing with our group, she saw a boy with Down’s Syndrome watching them longingly.  He was alone with his two elderly parents. Her gut instinct told her he wanted to dance but was waiting for an invitation. Carolyn went up and asked the boy to join her and their group. He flew to the dance floor in seconds. Once the music was over, the boy’s mom and dad approached her to express their gratitude. “Thank you so much. He loves to dance but wouldn’t go up alone.”

Although Carolyn loves what she does but it does have it’s challenges. There are times while out on recreational trips that a person we support has an accident, and as a staff member she is responsible for cleaning it up. Her past experiences have prepared her for this, and she doesn’t bat an eye. “But, it’s not for everyone,” she says, “You have to be able to keep a positive attitude through it all, or they can sense it. You can’t let on if you’re tired or grossed out. This is not a computer or office job – you have to really be here for our folks. I treat them like they are part of my family, because for me, they are.”

Click here to learn more about the recreation program. 

The Rehabilitation Center provides programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, behavioral health concerns, and the aging. For more information, please contact us here.

Agency programs find creative ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Day Hab adds a spin to the holiday with their Leprechaun Traps

On Friday March 16th, Day Hab celebrated St. Patrick’s day. However, they added a spin to the beloved holiday’s usual activities. Originally they were going to do a scavenger hunt for Lep

rechauns hidden around the facility. But, two direct support professionals wanted to do something different; something

more interactive.

That is when Trisha Wineberg and Ally Gomez, direct support professionals at Day Hab, came up with the idea to make Leprechaun traps. This turned into a high involvement display of creativity and craftsmanship. Some traps lit up, some spun around and some came with a story.

P.S. No Leprechauns were harmed in this process!

Saturday Recreation sham-rocks the kitchen

On St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday Recreation, a

site-based respite program, had a St. Patrick’s Day Party in the Day Hab room at our Allegany Building. To celebrate, the group made St. Patrick’s day themed lunch – Reuben sliders, Irish Flag colored jello, fruit to make layered fruit cups to mimic the rainbow that leads to the pot of gold. The meals they have in Saturday rec area collaborative effort. The individuals in the program and staff work together to come up with the recipes, cook and clean up. In addition

to food, the group made Leprechaun themed puzzles and crafts to decorate. Respite providers

Barb, Angela and Bryan plan projects, set up and help as needed. In addition to planning crafts and activities and having holiday parties at rehab center sites, Saturday rec has an
overnight where they visit Allegany State Park, they go bowling, Garage Sale-ing, to
the movies and much more.

Linwood gets lucky with St.Patrick’s day dinner

On Thursday, March 15th, The Linwood Senior Center, operated out of The Rehab Center’s Allegany Building, had a St. Patrick’s Day dinner and day party with traditional Irish foods, decorations and games. The staff created a themed coin toss game, green

rice mystery search, trivia and provided everyone with St. Patrick’s day headpieces for fun photo, along

with a variety of other activities throughout the day. The day wasnt complete with a suprise “snowball attack” on the day hab program, also

located in the Allegany building. Staff and individuals we support joined in, throwing, dodging and catching the cotton “snowballs.”

St. Patrick’s Day Spring Formal brings out local seniors

Despite the snowy day, the Southern Tier Activity Association’s First Annual “St. Patrick’s Day Spring Formal” went on without a hitch at Good Times of Olean. Seniors from several local nursing homes and centers, joined in on the fun, moving and grooving to live music from “The Kokomo Band.” The band played a variety of music, mixing in Irish and Elvis tunes.

The ReHabilitation Center’s Linwood Senior Center, along with The Olean Pines, Houghton, Absolut Care, The Motherhouse, and Eden Heights were all represented at the dance.

A group of nursing home and senior activity directors organized the STAA over 30 years ago, building on the benefit of interaction and idea sharing between like organizations. They now coordinate the annual Golden Olympics, have held a large Bingo event, and this year decided to introduce the St. Patrick’s Day Spring Formal. 
To learn more about The Rehabilitation Center’s Linwood Center, click here.