Less than 20% of people with developmental disabilities have jobs. That’s one of the reasons Adelante has our own Enterprises, so more people get an opportunity to work. But, Adelante’s preference is to help people find competitive jobs with other local businesses. It’s in that spirit that we are happy to congratulate Christian for moving into community employment. Christian used to work at Adelante Document Destruction Services. Now he works at Walmart and we couldn’t be happier for him. 

Adelante Enterprises: Job Skills that Lead to Community Employment

Before Christian began working at Walmart, he worked at Adelante Document Destruction Services learning job skills and earning raises. Adelante provides jobs because some people or their guardians feel they are not ready to work in the community. Or, without previous experience, employers may not give them a chance. People with disabilities also can have trouble with communication or struggle with interviews. Whatever the case, Adelante Enterprises can give them an opportunity to learn employment skills, earn money, and find a sense of purpose and community. However, as disability service providers, our preference and priority is to help clients get and keep jobs in the community.

“Christian came a long way from when he first started at DDS,” said Andy Hernandez, the production manager at Adelante Document Destruction Services. In the beginning, Christian had a hard time adjusting to the constant focus required. Furthermore, he had never worked around forklifts or the kinds of big equipment that is on site at the shredding operation. His safety skills needed to be ramped up. Andy relayed that both of those work factors improved with experience. Andy said of Christian, “His safety skills improved tremendously. His focus improved, as well.”

Christian operates the carboard bailer at Walmart.
One skill Christian is particularly proud of is operating the cardboard bailer—a skill he learned while working at Adelante. Because of this, collecting cardboard and operating the bailer is Christian’s priority for the day.

Adelante associates learn a lot at Adelante Enterprises. Those skills include actual hands-on tasks, of course. But, they also include teamwork, being on time, and staying safe on the job. The team at Adelante is used to working in an environment that includes people with all kinds of disabilities. Enterprises provides training in a safe, supportive environment where clients can learn and grow at their own pace.

Making the Move to a Community Job

People with disabilities who work at Adelante earn raises and promotions. They are also regularly encouraged to consider work in the community. Like so many others, Christian took that encouragement to heart. Adelante was happy to support his choice of moving to a community job. That’s when the EmployAbility team began to work with Christian. EmployAbility is Adelante’s supported employment group.

The Enterprises team provides input to the EmployAbility staff. For example, sharing the person’s strengths and skills. 

So far, Christian enjoys his new community job and is glad he made the move. “There are thousands of customers that come through this Walmart every day, and I’ve always wondered what happens behind the scenes,’” Christian says. He comes into work excited to interact with coworkers and help customers. 

Christian sweeps an aisle at Walmart.
One of Christian’s jobs at Walmart is sweeping.

Employment Services Can Mean Success at Work

Adelante wants people with disabilities, like Christian, to succeed at work. To that end, the EmployAbility team provides several services. One of those is Job Development. Job developers help clients with their resumes, find suitable jobs, and interview. For many clients, job developers also attend training and act as their first job coaches. 

After that, people can get ongoing support on the job. That support is known as job coaching. Evan, one of Christian’s job coaches says, “What’s really rewarding about job coaching is seeing people like Christian being an active part of our community.” 

Of course, not every client needs a job developer or job coach. Adelante customizes our services to the needs of every person and workplace. And, just as Adelante Enterprises help clients gain the skills necessary to work in the community, the employment services program helps clients gain skills to reduce or even fade out their job supports. Evan, for example, has been giving Christian more space during his shifts, to see if he can work more independently.

Self-advocacy on the job is also very important. “Christian has been very good at letting customers know ‘I’m new here and still learning’ if he cannot answer a customer’s question,” said Evan. 

You can help people with disabilities get jobs, too!

The NM Department of Health notes work is a responsibility and right for working-age people, including people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often denied opportunities even when studies show people with disabilities can be model employees. When a business hires people with disabilities, it isn’t just the employee that benefits. Business that employ people with disabilities often are more successful and higher performing. (Institute for Corporate Productivity) More voices and perspectives, create stronger products and solutions for customers. Giving people with disabilities good jobs is a win-win!

If you’d like to hire a person with a disability, visit the employment services section of the website for more information. Or if you’d like to work with one of our Enterprises, learn more at AdelanteEnterprises.com.