Helping Adults with Disabilities Find & Keep Jobs in their Communities
By Todd Faulkner
Meet Peninsula Sevices.....
Peninsula Services is a local 501(c) (3) serving people with disabilities and the greater Kitsap Peninsula. The agency focuses on creating meaningful employment opportunities targeting one of our most underserved populations, persons who experience disability. The agency focuses on employment training and placement through a wide variety of services concluding that employment unlocks the door to a meaningful and fulfilling life and creates opportunity.
Employment affords freedom, independence, and autonomy. The unemployment rate for working-age adults with a disability is close to 80 percent. That's eight in ten people who have value but lack opportunities to contribute. Often, people with disabilities are left to a system that is overstretched for resources and forces them to live a life that falls short of their full potential.
When people have appropriate regular jobs and the steady income resulting from their own hard work, a world of choices begins to open. They can choose where they live, shop, recreate, and fellowship. Employment challenges each of us to grow, learn, and contribute.
In addition to the benefits of employment for the individual worker, employment brings real benefits to the entire family and to the circle of support. Recently I met with a family who had been the sole support and caregiver for their adult son with autism. They had done the best they could to provide for his needs, relying on state services when they were available to bridge some gaps. The family had reached the point where the parents' personal health had begun to deteriorate and they were no longer able to provide all the support their son needed. It surprised them that their son could be employed in the community, providing them with some much-needed respite and helping their son grow and flourish.
Since the beginning, Peninsula Services has believed in expanding opportunities for adults with disabilities and is dedicated to the philosophy that all persons can excel, grow, set, and achieve personal goals. However, in 1971 there were few choices for families with a child having significant disabilities. Many were told to place their loved ones into a state-run institution, where they would be cared for and provided their basic needs and many families perceived this to be the only option for their children. However, a small group of parents and educators believed there must be more for these children. Some of these parents and educators began meeting in church basements and community halls to discuss the idea of educating children in their community and providing work training for young adults with disabilities.
Peninsula Services operates a variety of projects, focused on providing funding for our Vocational Services Department and, at the same time offering job opportunities to persons with disabilities on a variety of our contracts. Our goal is community employment for all and we operate with the following core values:
All persons can grow and excel
All persons are deserving of dignity and respect
People are the greatest asset in achieving the mission
The pursuit of excellence in all services provided is of utmost importance
Innovation, creativity, and the desire to excel are greatly valued.
Peninsula Services exists to provide vocational and life-enriching experiences that allow every individual the opportunity to grow, achieve personal goals, and maximize their potential. For over 50 years, Peninsula Services has created meaningful opportunities to integrate people with disabilities into our communities. Peninsula Services' core is a highly dedicated team of professionals working together with people who deserve an equal chance at life. Our work contributes toward building the dreams and improving the lives of hundreds of individuals, families, and businesses. We love what we do, and we feel fortunate to be of service in many wonderful ways.
Our Vocational Services Department offers Job Placement Services - through referrals from various state entities such as DVR and DDA. Peninsula Services has earned a reputation for "Quality Rehabilitation Programs That Work." We are proud to be part of this great community support system!
At the helm of Peninsula Services is Chief Executive Officer Jill Robinson. Robinson has been with the agency for over 35 years and shares the heart of our mission. It is a mission that hits close to home to Robinson: "My oldest brother had a severe intellectual disability. It didn't take long at all to understand that we all live, laugh, hurt, and love the same as all other people in the world."
Robinson came to Peninsula Services in 1985 to serve as the Rehabilitation Director and assumed the position as CEO in 1987. She received a master's degree in Rehabilitation Administration from Southern Illinois University and has been active in much local, state, and national organizations focused on improving services and opportunities for people with disabilities. She has also held leadership positions with a variety of service organizations locally that enhance the community as a whole, serving as a Rotary President, was selected Rotarian of the Year, was honored as a Woman of Achievement by the YWCA and has received other awards for her service throughout the years.
As Peninsula Services looks to the future, we continue to create a fully integrated community where people of all abilities are celebrated and supported to become a part of the rich tapestry of life. You can help us meet our ambitious goals by looking for opportunities to support businesses that employ people with disabilities. Our staff support individuals all over the county; in grocery stores, retail outlets, automotive repair centers, restaurants, churches, gyms, and many other locations. These socially conscious businesses deserve our support.
You may also consider contributing to the mission of Peninsula Services by joining our active Board of Directors. We would love to talk with you about opportunities to serve if you have expertise in the area of finance or legal issues, special education, or non-profit leadership.
You can also consider helping the mission of Peninsula Services by remembering us in your giving plan. As a 501(c) (3) non-profit, Peninsula Services can accept tax-deductible gifts to help further our services throughout the community.
At 50+ years of service, we see our work as just getting started. Won't you join us as we work together to change the world into a more inclusive place for all? Together we've achieved so much, but there is still so much to do.
Article Written by:
Todd Faulkner, Director of Mission Services, 360-340-2105, www.peninsulaservices.org