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Employment Teams Attend "Meet at the Mountain"

Ian Jones is a job seeker and told conference participants of his love for cars and desire to work in the auto industry. His father Terry (left) came to the conference to support Ian's efforts.

Abigail Peterson loves animals and hopes to work in a veterinarian's office.
She attended the conference and gained some ideas for contacts to make and learned about employment options in her field.
One of Oregon's untapped labor pools consists of skilled, motivated men and women who happen to have disabilities. Department of Human Services, in collaboration with the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS), the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS) and the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) are working together to implement the Employment First initiative.

The Employment First Initiative is designed to increase opportunities for persons with developmental/intellectual disabilities to work in jobs as part of the general work force and earn wages and benefits in community business settings like other Oregonians. Part of the Employment First Initiative is to build and use local leadership teams across Oregon with local partners working together on collaborative strategies to achieve gainful employment for individuals in their community. Nine teams were formed in 2011.

Employment First recently sponsored a statewide strategy conference and nearly 100 people representing community organizations, rehabilitation facilities, school systems, employment coaches and job developers, ODDS, OVRS and OCDD, along with parents and self advocates convened for the day and a half workshop. All nine teams formed in 2011 attended. Called "Meet at the Mountain," the conference was a time to collaborate, share successes and learn from each other. The task at hand was to provide training and discuss strategies for what it would take for people with developmental disabilities who want to work to become competitively employed, enhancing their ability for independence.

Two job seekers with developmental disabilities came to the conference with their parents to share their job search experiences and learn effective strategies to help them in their individual search. Ian from Bend loves cars and talked to the participants about wanting to work in the auto industry either washing, detailing or fixing cars. Abigail from Estacada shared her love of animals with the participants and her desire to work at a veterinarian office or a field where she can care for small animals. They spoke to the participants about how meaningful employment would be for them.

Some of the workshop topics included successful job development for persons with significant disabilities, engaging communities in creating more job opportunities for people with disabilities and the Think beyond the Label national campaign.

For more information about Employment Support, the Employment First Initiative, the Meet at the Mountain event and Think Beyond the Label campaign, please visit:

DHS Developmental Disabilities Employment Support
Employment First Initiative
Meet at the Mountain
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services