Success Stories

Jamal thrives working more than 27 hours per week

Jamal Jackson is a talkative, energetic man who participates in Special Olympics and makes his own dubstep dance videos.

Until recently, Jamal struggled to find a job that fit his skills and had flexibility so he could continue to compete in basketball, softball and bowling tournaments.

Jamal works 27.5 hours per week at South Coast Hospice and Palliative Care Services in Coos Bay. Jammie Rodighiero, director of employment and community inclusion at Coos Bay-based Star of Hope, developed the job for Jamal in February 2016.

“It’s wonderful, I love working here,” Jamal said. “I was really nervous during the interview, but once I started working here, I fell in love with the place. I have an excellent supervisor and two excellent bosses.”

Jamal, 30, works on the facilities and maintenance team. He is responsible for keeping the administrative building and the Community Bereavement & Education Center clean and well stocked.

Jammie said that Sharon Thom from Star of Hope initially met Linda Furman Grile, Executive Director of South Coast Hospice at a community event. Later Jammie connected with Carol Gardner, Facilities Manager & CEO Assistant at South Coast Hospice, about the possibility of employing an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability.

“To us, because the job coach was provided, it was a no-brainer,” Carol said. “It seemed like there wasn’t much risk and a lot of benefit. And Jamal is great and so much fun.”

Jamal’s direct supervisor is Brian Stringfield, supervisor of the property and building maintenance team. He said they provided Star of Hope with a list of job duties. From there, the employment provider created a more descriptive list that South Coast Hospice can use for other employees.

“Jamal is great at talking to people,” Jammie from Star of Hope said. “But he gets off track so the checklist became essential.”

 “It’s helped Jamal adapt to the position easier,” Brian added. “And other employees have found the checklist useful. It’s a wonderful tool to have.”

Jamal experiences fetal alcohol syndrome and memory issues. He said his job coach Edward Ponce from Star of Hope helps him to make sure he is keeping to the work checklist.

“You need to break it down for me,” Jamal said. “I’m talkative but I’m a visual learner. This works way better for me than someone trying to tell me what to do because I’ll forget or miss something. Ed keeps me on task, and he’s a wonderful person.”

Star of Hope has been undergoing transformation from facility-based to community-based employment services. In 2015, Star of Hope was one of 25 providers that received a DHS transformation grant to transform its services to community-based employment services.

Jamal has taken employment path classes at Star of Hope to learn job skills.

Now Jamal serves as a mentor at Star of Hope, talking to other individuals with I/DD about community employment.

“They ask me what I do, what’s it’s like here, how much I make, all of that,” he said. “I tell them about how awesome it is here and that you get to learn new things and how you get a paycheck.”

Jamal makes $10.50 per hour at his job. While his dream is to open up his own auto body shop someday, he said the job at South Coast Hospice helps him to learn valuable skills, such as budgeting his paychecks, time management, and working on a team.

Brian said Jamal’s upbeat, outgoing personality has been a gift to the business.

“He brings a smile to everyone’s face because of his bubbly personality,” Brian said. “Any employee, regardless of whether they have a disability, has some speed bumps. But it has worked well. Jamal shows up, does a good job, and is dependable.”

Jamal said he takes pride in going to work and collecting a paycheck. He enjoys the comradery at South Coast Hospice and Palliative Care Services, and wants to continue mentoring other individuals with I/DD and promoting the benefits of community employment.

“If you have a disability, work your hardest,” Jamal said. “Don’t give up. Your best outcome will be so rewarding.”

Jamal’s service coordinator is Nicole Converse with Community Living Case Management. His VR counselor was Rhonda Olson and his job developer was Jammie Rodighiero from Star of Hope. Edward Ponce from Star of Hope continues to do Jamal’s job coaching.


You can view a slideshow of Jamal at work.