With end of sheltered jobs on the horizon, discover the disabled


By Jan Aho

for the Register Guard

Executive Director of Pearl Buck Center

March is National Disability Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to celebrate the progress that communities across the nation have made with regard to being aware of the gifts that people with various abilities bring to our communities.

In the 1990s, Oregon began transitioning people from state-funded institutions into their communities. In the 2000s, our state’s last publicly funded institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities closed.

Instead of being isolated, these institutions’ former residents increasingly became woven into the fabric of our communities. Their lives became richer and filled with many more opportunities than an institution could offer, including opportunities for employment.

In 2008, Oregon became one of the first states to formally adopt an “Employment First” policy. In 2013, Gov. John Kitzhaber issued Executive Order 13-04, mandating the Integrated Employment Plan, and he sent a letter to state Department of Human Services staff affirming Oregon’s commitment to integrated employment services for people who meet the state definition of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Different views exist about how to ensure a full range of employment choices for people with a wide range of abilities and skills. For instance, facility-­based employment services can be a source of meaningful, paid work. They can provide training in technical and social skills needed for community employment. And they can offer a productive alternative to sitting at home until an individual secures a community job placement.

In the Pearl Buck Center production department, training, wages and work at skill levels from simple to complex are provided through jobs contracted to us by more than 70 businesses, including Attune Foods, Dancing Bear’s Rocks and Minerals, East West Tea Company, Electrical Geodesics and Red Ape Cinnamon.

These companies receive high-quality service and cost benefits through work performed by adults working at Pearl Buck Center.

Employment First is gradually defunding this type of “sheltered” employment. The state has eliminated it as an option for young adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities when they graduate high school, and it will prohibit facility-based employment altogether beginning in 2019.

However, the undisputed common ground is that people of all abilities should have access to employment, with the understanding that everyone has something to contribute.

Working and sharing our skills is one way we can give to our community. Work increases our independence, self-esteem and sense of belonging.

In addition, we all benefit from living in a diverse, inclusive community that gives everyone the chance to make his or her own unique contribution.

Pearl Buck Center began its community employment services in the 1980s because, as individuals who experience any kind of disability know, it is harder for them to get a job than it is for others. Fortunately, more employers are discovering the advantages of hiring these motivated job-seekers directly.

Kallin Benson of Fuller Cabinets says, “Initially, our motivation for hiring from Pearl Buck Center was to simply free up our skilled labor force from their basic labor tasks. What we have received from Pearl Buck Center’s Community Employment Department are positive, hardworking, fun-loving employees that genuinely appreciate the opportunity to work hard and earn a living.

“These guys (with disabilities) actually bring the morale of the company up every time they’re here in the building. It’s important for us to hire people with disabilities because they are capable members of our community who deserve the same opportunities most of us take for granted.”

Business owners often find that productivity and efficiency increase after they hire someone with disabilities. Holly Powell, Pearl Buck Center’s director of community employment services, says, “When your company hires someone with disabilities, you will gain a dedicated, productive and invaluable employee. Your company will have an employee who is excited to come to work every day and will strive to do their best at every given task.”

When one of our community employment clients finally got a job he had especially longed for, he said, “Pinch me, so I know I’m not dreaming.”

John Anderson,  the owner of Togo’s restaurants in Eugene, asked Pearl Buck Center for help in finding people with disabilities who were interested in working in the food service business. Our job developer and job coaches identified someone whose skill set and interests matched John’s needs.

Following that success, Togo’s hired two more employees with disabilities. When I thanked John for supporting our community employment efforts, he replied, “Don’t thank me. This is good business.”

March is National Disability Awareness Month. This is a perfect time for our business community to consider jobs you may have for individuals with disabilities.

Jan Aho is executive director of Pearl Buck Center.

Source: With end of sheltered jobs on the horizon, discover the disabled

Job Seeker: Sarah Carter


Meet Sarah, she’s interested in landing a job in the childcare arena. Presently, Sara enjoys assisting with the childcare every Wednesdays at her church.Sarah C

Sarah is working on completing her food handler’s card, infant first aid/CPR, abuse reporting and getting registered in the national criminal registry. She then plans on getting some training in how to be a teaching assistant. This last item is something that she really looks forward to because it will allow her some hands-on experience to actually interact with the kids.

Sarah says that she likes how easy it can be to interact with kids and at the same time it can be challenging, but fun just the same.

Sarah envisions herself; playing with and reading to children, helping with craft projects, preparing snacks, cleaning, sterilizing toys, and organizing. These are all well within her capabilities at this juncture of her job search. If you know of a place that could utilize Sarah’s abilities, please contact, Doris Steele at doris.steele@pearlbuckcenter.com or call 541.484.4666 today and let’s talk.




In need of a new star employee? We represent some of the brightest stars around the Eugene/Springfield area. And it runs the gamut as to their abilities, interests and aptitudes. For instance; we have people who are seeking casual, part-time and full-time positions, entry level or more specialized positions, we even have people who are looking for volunteer positions or hands-on assessment/mentorship type training as well as paid positions.

So as you can see we have someone who can meet your every employment need! Call or email us today, and let’s talk.

541.484.4666 or pbc.community.employment@gmail.com

“You’re Hired” Club – 2015


Your Hired Club-2015

It’s been a busy year around here. We have expanded our Community Employment team and as a result we have been able to assist quite a few people in landing and keeping jobs.

Because we know that it is always so exciting to hear those two magic words “You’re Hired!”, the Pearl Buck Community Employment team would like to congratulate and welcome each person who has been employed this year to the ‘You’re Hired’ Club!


JosefKenShopDionJasonBrianScottKang HiredJorden HiredChrisMarisol HiredCodyChris HiredJamie HiredAllen HiredMatt HiredGabby Hiredposter_from_postermywallposter_from_postermywallGlenn HiredJonathon HiredMaddie Hiredposter_from_postermywallTiana HiredAmanda Hired


Pearl Buck Center: out in the com-munity

Did you know that Pearl Buck Center has been finding and securing jobs for people with disabilities for over 27 years?

Here are a couple of our past community employment public service announcements, perhaps you remember seeing them in the past or have spotted these smiling faces about town.



Doing Good, because it’s Good for Business


The job developers at Pearl Buck Center are out in the community approaching businesses to take a look at what they do and help them assess whether there is a place in their company for one or more of our job seekers. And we usually can find a good fit for everyone.

The bigger question is whether it makes sense for the business to take on one of our clients. We usually find that with willingness, the right fit, perhaps some minor adjustments or modifications, training and a little time it can and usually  does pay off in the end both for the employer and employee.

Take a look at a couple of well-known businesses that have found out what we already know to be true – ‘Doing good, IS good for business’. Mark Wafer, a Tim Horton franchise owner in Canada, has found that his employment turnover rate is lower than another franchise down the street from him. This, of course, saves him money in the long run.

And a Walgreens in Connecticut has hired 40% of it’s workforce from the disabled community and is one of the most profitable Walgreens Distribution Centers (DC’s) in the nation. Walgreens plans to model all of their DC’s after this one as a result.

Why? Because there is a “Return on Disability”, to coin a phrase from Rich Donovan, a business consultant with Cerebral Palsy who says that “It’s not about charity”, but rather “It all comes down to numbers and an observable measurement that nobody can dispute.”

If I haven’t fully piqued your interest or you still have some questions, here is another interview with Mark Wafer. His answers are very comprehensive and cover most areas of concern for business owners.

So as you can see, from a business standpoint, hiring employees with disabilities really makes dollars & sense. And what’s not to like about that! So give us a call and let us help you figure out how to make your business be more diverse and prosperous. Call Pearl Buck Center’s Employment Services, today at 541.484.4666 or email us at pbc.community.employment@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Job seeker: Amanda Smith

Meet one of our newest job seekers; Amanda. She is interested in finding a job where she can learn new things and make a living for herself. Amanda would like to find work that entails working with animals, or stocking, cleaning, customer service,…actually she is interested in just about anything, where she can learn and grow and made to feel a part of the team.

This young woman feels that she  has the skills to; stock shelves, wash dishes, clean office spaces or clean up after animals. Amanda says that [she] “just wants to work and I’ll do just about anything.”

Amanda loves animals, especially her dog Banshee. She has been volunteering at the 1st Avenue Animal Shelter for a little over a  year now as part of her work study in the Community Living Program during the school year. She also willingly volunteered during the summer last year, just because she likes being around the animals so much.

Could you use someone like Amanda in your business or know of a place that would make a good first job for her? Can you think of a way to create a place in your work site that could accomodate Amanda and her abilities? Contact her job developer; Lorie Polk at lorie.polk@pearlbuckcenter.com

Amanda Hired

What can YOU do?

What can you do?

It’s a simple question that can be answered in any number of ways. And yet it isn’t asked nearly enough in regards to people living with a disability and employment options. People experiencing disabilities can do much more than any of us often imagine, that is, when given the encouragement and opportunity to stretch themselves and learn. And this shouldn’t be much of a surprise given that is all any of us needs to succeed.

When those experiencing disabilities can live up to their true potential and actively pursue the jobs of their dreams and abilities, everybody wins.

What can you do?

When people are willing to become mentors and show others how to become better versions of themselves and learn what they’re good at, everybody wins.

What can you do?

When people who own or manage businesses take a leap of faith and challenge themselves by thinking outside the box to see where they can utilize the skills and abilities of people with a barrier to employment, everybody wins.

What can you do?

And when any of us really looks at another human being and recognizes and allows for the similarities AND the differences, we all win.

What can you do?

Everyone wins, because everyone is included and made to feel valued, important, needed, useful, involved and a part of something bigger than themselves.

We know that it isn’t always easy to figure out how to switch gears and try on a new way of thinking, that’s where we at Pearl Buck Center Community Employment Services can assist and guide you along the way. You don’t have to do this all alone, we’d be more than happy to help figure out how best to implement and utilize a new employee, how to go about mentoring someone who is interested in your field of work or find a place of employment that fits your abilities.

Who I Am Poster; Vander Cherry
Who I Am Poster; Vander Cherry

Check out The Campaign for Disability Employment Public Service Announcements asking this very same question…What Can YOU Do?

The Campaign for Disability Employment is a collaborative effort to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities by encouraging employers and others to recognize the value and talent they bring to the workplace. In business, the investment that drives innovation is talent. The knowledge, skills and abilities employees bring to work each day are by far the assets that yield the most output over the long term. Whether good economic times or bad, it’s the organizations that know how to identify and recognize talent that are most likely to succeed. Through its national public education effort, What Can YOU Do?,The Campaign for Disability Employment reinforces that people with disabilities want to work and that their talents and abilities positively impact businesses both financially and organizationally

If after watching you are compelled to really investigate What can You do? contact Pearl Buck Center Community Employment Services and together we can figure it out. [pbc.community.employment@gmail.com]





Employment Success! On the job with Kang Eui Hong

In May, we introduced you to Kang Eui Hong, who sought an opportunity to stock shelves.  Today, we’re thrilled to post an update: in August, Kang Eui successfully landed a job with a local Dari Mart in Coburg, Oregon.

Kang Eui’s manager hired him to help keep Dari Mart’s coolers stocked during the busiest part of the day.  In preparation, Pearl Buck’s employment consultant worked closely with Kang Eui and his manager to design Kang Eui’s shift, so that that both he and Dari Mart were set up for success.  From there, it was up to Kang Eui–and from the very first shift, it was clear that Kang Eui planned to give this job his 100%.


Kang Eui approached stocking with consistent hard work, thoroughness, and attention to detail.  He quickly mastered the basics of the task, and then began working with his Pearl Buck job support staff to improve his speed and efficiency.  It soon became clear that Kang Eui was ready to take on some new responsibilities; within a few months, his manager added bagging ice to his daily routine.


Soon, Kang Eui will celebrate three months of successful employment.   His manager reports that his work is excellent, and recently added five more hours per week to his schedule.  We look forward to watching Kang Eui continue to grow, thrive, and turn this opportunity into a success story for everyone involved.

Want to congratulate Kang Eui?   Give it up in the comments below!

Job Seeker: Lonnie Ofsthun

Lonny's Poster

Meet Lonnie a very dependable & determined guy who knows what he wants. Lonnie comes from a family of truck drivers and his dream is to one day get a Commercial Driver’s License. He is currently seeking a part/time driving position. He would like to get some more experience driving a large truck but will settle for any position that puts him in the driver’s seat.

Lonnie has been driving since 1987; he has a current noncommercial driver’s license with a farm endorsement, a clean driving record and recently passed a USDOT physical exam.

He has a history of longevity with past and present employers. Currently employed at Goodwill Industries since 2011 as Warehouse Assistant sorting donated clothing items. Prior to that, he worked at a Northwest Auto Auction driving vehicles to and from dealerships for 9 years. Before that he was cleaning stalls and operating a Bobcat at Eugene Live Stock for 7 Years. He also has some experience driving large farm trucks and trailers.

Work is very important to Lonnie, he shows up on time and ready to work each day. He says, he is at his best when he is behind the wheel. If you or someone you know is looking for a part time driver who is eager to learn, you can contact his job developer; Linda Cox at 541-337-9498 or by email at linda.cox@pearlbuckcenter.com