After a winding journey trying to find a good job match, Quentin Jones finally found a great job in December 2019 – and then COVID-19 hit.
Only a few months into his new job, it was eliminated due to the pandemic. But Quentin didn't give up. He reconnected with his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Vinnie Gwozdz from the Oregon Commission for the Blind.
“Quentin has been amazingly resilient and kept pushing even after his last job ended because of Covid protocols - which of course was not Quentin's fault," Vinnie said. “He really persevered in his job search."
Job Developer Taylor Jones (unrelated to Quentin) with Community Vision took Quentin on a series of tours and interviews to different employers. She found a good fit with Imperfect Foods, a grocery delivery service. Quentin was hired in November 2020 as a warehouse associate out of Imperfect Food's Clackamas location.
“Even before COVID, I wasn't someone who has been around people much," Quentin said. “Interactions are important. That's something important to me now. That's important to me when I work."
Quentin has a visual impairment and a developmental disability. He is 25 and currently lives in his family home in Portland. His mother, Diana Jones, said Quentin's goal is to move out eventually.
“Quentin has always wanted to be independent and is working toward moving out on his own," she said. “It's very important to him."
Quentin's job includes sorting produce that comes into Imperfect Food's warehouse, composting and recycling and also building the boxes that employees take their veggies home in. Employees receive a box of produce as a bonus for working for the company.
Quentin's job coach Brandon Jones (unrelated to Quentin) with Community Vision said that Quentin learned his job tasks quickly.
“I was worried about the bailer machine," Brandon said, explaining it's a large machine that flattens down 4,000 pounds of cardboard at a time. “By the second week on the job, he was using the machine with just a little guidance."
Taylor Jones, who developed the position at Imperfect Foods for Quentin, said she has watched Quentin grow personally and professionally.
“The professional and personal growth I have witnessed is a testament to Quentin's determination to be employed and connect with people in his community," Taylor said. “What I appreciate most about Quentin, is how he advocates for himself, his collaborative problem-solving approach, and willingness to try new things."
Quentin said the hardest part of his job is his commute from North Portland to Clackamas on the Tri-Met Lift, mostly because he becomes nervous about the possibility of being late to work.
“They pick up other people and I worry about being late, but that almost never happens," Quentin said.
Quentin's mother Diana said employment is important for Quentin to make sure he is meeting people.
“Quentin found it so hard to be so isolated during COVID, because he is shy and had just started getting used to be around people when he lost the other job," she said. “I'm thrilled to see him working towards his goals and opening up."
Quentin is a big fan of superhero movies and comic books. In fact, he joked that his recent trip to the Oregon Convention Center to receive his COVID-19 vaccine was much different than his previous visit.
“The last time I was at the Convention Center was for Comic-Con," Quentin said, laughing. “A lot different than for the vaccine."
Quentin said he enjoys doing digital animation and is also an amateur writer. He donated part of his last paycheck to help the people of Texas dealing with their storm recovery. He said he believes people with disabilities should have an opportunity for employment and to bring a diverse perspective to businesses.
“I believe it brings very different ways of thinking things compared to what everyone else is doing and thinking in the workplace," he said.
Quentin's employment team includes: Oregon Commission for the Blind Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Vinnie Gwozdz, Employment Specialist Taylor Jones with Community Vision, Job Coach Brandon Jones with Community Vision and Personal Agent Rondi Grace with Independence NW.