Success Stories

Karen Simmons likes to tell people, when her son Travis was born he weighed one pound, 7 ounces and fit in the palm of her hand.

"He wasn't given much of a chance of living," she said. "With all the complications he had; we just didn't know what to expect."

Travis, 27, has cerebral palsy, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He spent many years in a sheltered workshop, but he did not like the commute on the bus or the busy environment. His family lives 12 miles outside of Prineville and he would travel an hour on the bus to the workshop in Redmond.

Travis succeeds in Prineville

Travis’ personal agent, Sarah Moore, has worked with him for more than six years. Sarah wanted community employment for Travis, but she couldn’t find a local job developer that was able to serve Travis and his support needs.

“We checked all the boxes and each year we talked about employment, but there was nobody in the area to serve him,” Sarah said. “As soon as Travis connected with Kari, everything changed.”

In January 2018, Kari Clark started her own employment agency, Central Oregon Employment Solutions, to serve Prineville and Redmond area. Kari started doing all job development and job coaching herself, but now employs three job coaches. Since January, she made 11 new job placements for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Prineville area.

“Travis enjoys male friendships and he needs an environment that isn’t chaotic,” Kari said. “He also needs something where he can either sit or stand. And he’s very good with computers.”

Kari approached Todd Stone, owner of Prepper Up, a sporting goods and survival gear store in Prineville. Todd needed someone who could come in and do product inventory and pricing while he focused on customers. Travis was hired March 2018 as the inventory and scanning retail associate for Prepper Up.

Cortney Gibson, I/DD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, purchased a thermal printer that connects with Travis’ laptop and scanner to make the process of scanning inventory easier for Travis. His job coach, Kristi Reed, supports Travis at his job and helps work through issues with the equipment.

Travis at Prepper Up, in Prineville

“It makes me feel good (working),” Travis said. “I got a raise for doing a good job.”

As Travis’ personal agent, Sarah has always wanted him to feel connection and succeed in a community job. She said working in community employment has opened Travis up to trying new experiences. He went to an Upward Bound camp and was away from home for the first time this last summer.

“Kari connects with their hearts and their passions,” Sarah said. “That’s what we all want – a career that uses our talents. I’m so proud of Travis and what he has accomplished.”

Travis said he wants to work toward learning to be a cashier and use the register at the store. He gives a thumbs-up sign and grins when asked how he likes his job and his coworkers. His parents said their son is a changed man.

“I’ve always hoped for something like this for Travis, but honestly never expected it would happen,” said Karen Simmons, his mother.

His father, Randy Simmons, added: “He has so much more confidence than he used to. He makes the money symbol. He wants to get down to work in the morning and make that money. It makes me proud.”

Sarah Moore has watched as Travis has grown to a much more confident person who now makes sure to get his fruit smoothies from the coffee cart next door during his breaks.

“I believe in all the possibilities that employment means for people,” Sarah said. “Working gives me friendship and community. These are things I value in my own life so why wouldn’t someone I work with also need that?”

Travis’ employment team includes: Cortney Gibson, I/DD VR Counselor; Kari Clark, job developer and owner of Central Oregon Employment Solutions; Sarah Moore, personal agent with Full Access High Desert; Kristi Reed, job coach with Central Oregon Employment Solutions; and Jill Hannemann with Abilitree/Work Incentives Network provided benefits counseling.

View a photo slideshow of Travis at work.​​​