Roan was sure that Ray Hesseltine would be a great employee – she just needed
to find an employer who shared her belief.
is legally blind and has autism and an intellectual and developmental disability
(I/DD). By his early 40s, he had never worked in a community job and had only
been in day support activities.
is director of employment services at Step Forward Activities, Inc.,
a provider agency in Baker City. She believed in Ray’s potential and knew a
community job could change his life.
knew he could be successful in a supportive, nurturing environment,” Pamela
approached Stacy DeLong, owner of Coverworks Plus, a small
family business that sells tile, window and floor coverings in Baker City.
just have a lot of cleaning work around here, and I was doing it myself,” Stacy
said. “Pamela just kept coming by. She practically camped outside our front
door. I wasn’t sure but Pamela asked me to give Ray the opportunity and try the
worked with the Oregon Commission for the
Blind to secure a 90-day paid work experience for Ray.
90-day work experience turned into a permanent job.
is a really hard worker,” Stacy said. “He does everything that is asked of
now 43, lives with his mother in Baker City. He likes that the store is quiet
and there is room for him to move around. He also gets along well with his
feel good here,” he said. “My mom thinks it’s pretty good I’m working now.”
is saving his paychecks for a vacation to the Oregon coast. Stacy said she
remembers the day Ray came in for the first paycheck he ever earned.
came in and just said, ‘I’ll need my first paycheck now please,’” Stacy said,
laughing. “He was so excited and proud.”
said Ray has changed from the quiet, withdrawn man she knew before. When he
first started his job, Pamela said Ray didn’t speak to anyone. She said he now
comes in smiling and speaks to everyone.
job has changed him in every aspect of his life,” she said. “He has a smile on his
face every time I see him. That is true of almost everyone I have placed in
integrated community employment.”
said she believes anyone – regardless of their disability – can work in
“There is something
for everyone,” Pamela said. “You just have to continue making those connections
in your community and know the right fits are there if you keep looking.”
who had never employed someone with a disability before, said she is glad she gave
Ray a chance.
our ‘Ray’ of sunshine,” she said. “He has freed up so much of my time. I think
there is an opportunity to expand his job duties. He’s part of our team.”
Ray’s employment team includes: Pamela
Roan, employment director and job developer at Step Forward Activities; Charlie
Carpenter, job coach with Step Forward Activities; VR counselor Samantha Smith
with Oregon Commission for the Blind; Billee Mekowsky, service coordinator with
New Directions Northwest; and Jennifer Bonnell provided benefits counseling
with Work Incentives Network.
slideshow of Ray at work.