Jason “Jake” Stoddard was ready for a change.
After more than 12 years in WITCO’s sheltered workshop in Ontario, staff started talking to Jake about community employment.
He admits – he was scared. Jake, 42, wasn’t sure what to expect in a community job. The sheltered workshop was safe, and every day he knew what to expect.
“This is a huge change for me,” Jake said, smiling. “But I think I was ready for something to change. I was scared, but I got over it.”
Jake now works 12 to 20 hours per week at Brookdale Senior Living as a dishwasher and server. He said he told his team that he would like to work with seniors.
“I lost my grandparents, and I was really close with them,” Jake said. “Now I have a building full of them.”
Jake’s rapport with the residents of Brookdale is evident as he brings the tray around during the lunch hour to pour drinks. He jokes with many and gets hugs from others.
“When I serve them coffee and drinks, I get to talk to them and it’s fun,” he said. “One resident, she calls me her grandson. You get to hear their stories, and I really like that.”
Mamie Allen, former employment support coordinator at WITCO, developed the job for Jake.
“I knew Jake would be a good fit,” Mamie said. “He is personable, and he gets along so well with the residents.”
Mamie said Jake’s belief in his own abilities and skills is growing steadily.
“I see a confidence in him I didn’t see before,” she said.
Jake said he is glad he decided to try community employment.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things,” he said. “I am now seeing what I can really do.”
Jake’s employment team includes: Robert Cadero, job coach with WITCO, Service Coordinator Andrea Wisnefsky; and VR Counselor Rachellie George.
View a slideshow of Jake at work.