By: Matt Fultz
"What does Matt do for you?"
The question seemed simple enough and it is one I have heard variations of before. The restaurant manager was interviewing a prospective employee and probably just wanted to find out why the applicant did not come alone to the interview. Likely having little or no experience with supported employment, he may have been thrown for a loop when a potential new hire, one with no visible disability, showed up with someone he called his "job coach."
Expecting the client to provide the manager with the usual answers about filling out applications or completing resumes, I was surprised at the response.
"Matt is pretty much my best friend and I wouldn't be where I am without him."
Welcome to one of the most rewarding and humbling days of my life. Not just my working life, but my entire life.
Now, if he had been asked the same question a day later, the answer might have been completely different. But in that moment, on that day, he felt I was one of the most important people in his life. In that moment, on that day, he did not see me as someone providing a service. He saw me as someone providing friendship and understanding.
Working with individuals with developmental disabilities, we at Outside the Box are charged every day with creating these moments. We get to help better the lives of others for a living. What a deal!
When it comes to helping individuals find employment, I take a very simple approach.
If I were to be involved in an accident and suffer a traumatic brain injury, what kind of service would I want to receive? If my young son was to be diagnosed with a developmental disability, how would I want him to be treated?
What kind of moments would we want for ourselves?
Would we want to be pushed into a job just to fill a quota, or would we want to take ownership of our career search and find something of interest that best utilizes our skills and talents?
These questions guide us each day as we work with participants, outlining goals and designing customized career paths. Our clients have the same hopes and aspirations as many of us, and we owe it to them to help them reach those goals and create those moments.
If someone wants to work just four hours a week, perform solitary work, or wants a job he or she can do from home, we can and have made it happen. The name of our organization is Outside the Box, but that is more than a catchy title, it is an approach to service that can be seen every day in the work we do.
Even though the client did not get that restaurant job, he persevered, continued in our program and found a job that is an even better fit with more moments to come.
We are not just finding jobs, we are creating moments. In return, the people with whom we work are creating moments in our lives.
Moments that will remain long after the new hire training is done.
To help us create more moments, please donate to our E-3 Campaign!
Matt Fultz is Outside the Box's Coordinator of Career Services. He and the Career Support Specialists at Outside the Box are at the forefront of helping individuals with disabilities find meaningful careers.