Jeremy King likes staying busy and prefers an active job.
“I like physical work,” Jeremy said. “I like getting up every morning, working with my bosses, having a routine.”
Jeremy, 25, works 8 to 10 hours per week at the University of Oregon (UO) in the Zero Waste Program and another 15 to 18 hours per week at Papa’s Pizza in Eugene. Jeremy experiences Asperger’s and he likes having a daily routine that keeps him busy.
Jeremy entered Lane Community College’s Specialized Support Services vocational program in 2011. Patty Parks, a job developer with Lane, worked to find a good job match. He was hired at Papa’s Pizza in January 2013 and at University of Oregon a few months later.
“He is very focused when he is working; focused on doing a good job,” Patty said.
Jeremy arrives by bus at the UO before 8 a.m. He starts his morning as all the Zero Waste employees do: with a series of stretches to help prevent injuries. His route is on foot and involves picking up recycling at the university power plant, the campus operations office, shipping and receiving, and the architecture studios. He brings the materials back to the Zero Waste area for sorting.
As he picks up a bag of petri dishes from outside the architectural studios, Jeremy explains that he likes the job security of his work at the UO.
“These petri dishes can be recycled,” he said. “It’s never-ending. There is always stuff that needs to be recycled.”
Jeff Ziglinski, one of Jeremy’s supervisors with the Zero Waste Program at the University of Oregon, said Jeremy is a model employee.
“He brings a different perspective to what we are doing here,” he said. “He really looks forward to being here, which really helps with morale for all our employees. His enthusiasm for the work and appreciation for what we do positively carries over to the whole team.”
Jeremy’s work at the UO was recognized beyond Zero Waste. A manager at the power plant nominated Jeremy for a Golden Duck award, awarded monthly to employees in the division of Campus Operations. Jeremy is proud of the award and recognition.
Ziglinski said they are so pleased with Jeremy’s work that they have offered him more hours. Jeremy is reluctant he doesn’t want to miss the free pizza lunch he gets before his shift begins at Papa’s.
“Jeremy is a great fit here,” said Brandon Moniz, vice president of Papa’s Pizza PPF in Eugene. “He is always positive, always on time – often early actually. He brings a great vibe to the whole crew.”
After leaving the UO, Jeremy takes the bus to Papa’s Pizza and starts his second job, bussing and cleaning tables during the busy lunchtime pizza and salad buffet.
Moniz said Papa’s emphasizes hiring a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities.
“Production speed isn’t as important to me as someone who brings a positive attitude and wants to be here,” Moniz said. “Yes, the person has to be able to do the job but speed isn’t a factor for me personally as much as customer interaction and attitude.”
Jeremy is now a fixture during the lunchtime rush.
“It’s hard in any industry to find good, reliable employees – it’s invaluable really,” said Cameron Brown, general manager at Papa’s.
Donny Addison, Zero Waste Operations Manager at UO, said employers considering hiring individuals with I/DD should team up with a job developer who knows how to fit the right employee to a business.
“Finding that employer/employee fit is really the important part,” he said. “He adds value to our workplace.”
Moniz of Papa’s Pizza echoes Addison’s sentiment about the right fit being important.
“I know as an employer it can be hard to consider if you haven’t done it before,” he said. “You have to be open-minded about the benefits of hiring someone with a disability. They can do a job assessment and see if they will work out before you hire a person. So there isn’t a lot of risk. But there is a lot of reward.”
Jeremy works between 25 and 28 hours per week and received benefits counseling so he can maintain his benefits while working. He receives job coaching with Bev Henderson at Lane’s Specialized Support Services. His service coordinator is Jamie Joshua with Lane County and his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor at the time of hire was Heather Lindsey with the Springfield VR office.
You can view a video of Jeremy at both of his jobs.
You can also view a photo slideshow of Jeremy at work.