Supported Employment program brings in new partnership

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

On weekend mornings at the Dunkin’ Donuts in the Shoppes at Ibis, the new guy on the crew greets everyone with a genuine smile as he wipes tables and cleans the lobby.  The work comes easy, but the new position is exciting for Zachary Weber, who is on his first real job.

It’s the most recent success story for the Supported Employment program of Seagull Services – a new employment partner and another student in a real job.  It built from a meeting between Dunkin’ Donuts manager, Dalton Balbinot and Supported Employment Outreach Coordinator Peg Rozzi. Balbinot, who has a brother with disabilities, was willing to take a chance.

“Zach nailed his interview,” Rozzi said. “Mr. Dalton shook his hand and said, “Welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts!”

That interview was the culmination of much preparation through the Supported Employment program. Through the program, young men and women with developmental disabilities learn social and vocational skills targeted to the work world.  In addition to skills such as filling out a job application, they practice role playing and problem-solving. Often, they’ll participate in internships.

“Our ultimate goal is to launch them into independence,” said Olivia Morris, Seagull’s Supported Employment Coordinator.  While Zach knew how to wipe tables and sweep, through Supported Employment, he practiced how to greet customers, how to communicate with his boss, and how to solve problems.

The “supported” part of the program can mean reinforcing specific job skills at the job site, or at Seagull. 

“We pop in on Zach frequently unannounced to see how he’s doing, and also to let his employer know we’re here,” Morris said.

That onsite reinforcement was a huge factor for another employment partner that came about last year for another Seagull post-graduate. Isabella Dembinski works in the fitting room at DD’s Discount’s. Rozzi has worked with her on how to speak to customers, how to dress for work, and one other daunting task – rehanging hundreds of items each day.

“It’s so exciting to see this program expand and see these kids go into real jobs,” Rozzi said. “These are stepping stones. We want to see them continue.”