Any typical day at Independence Center, you would find Gabe delivering the mail, taking lunch orders or discussing the latest movies to hit the theater. But not lately. And that’s a good thing. Gabe began his first transitional employment job at Clean Uniform this past April and has been rocking and rolling ever since! He admitted he was a little nervous when he started because his only other paid job was cutting grass for a group home. “This is my first professional job experience and I haven’t been late or missed a day of work yet,” Gabe proudly shares.
Gabe has been a member since 2010, and like many others members, the desire to work does not always immediately translate into entering the workforce. They are learning how to manage their illness while taking the desired steps to reintegrate into society. The work opportunities through Independence Center’s Clubhouse program parallel a traditional work environment that mirror the expectations and relationships of a workplace – preparing members for future employment.
Stigma and misinformation about mental illness is another significant barrier to employment. That is why we are proud to partner with Clean Uniform and dozens of other St. Louis employers in our Transitional Employment (TE) program. These part-time, temporary placements provide not only a paycheck, but purposeful work that assist members in developing the necessary disciplines to be successful in the workforce.
Gabe’s placement manager and long-time Independence Center staff, Chris Brannaman, explains, “This is his first time working and he has blown everyone away with how great he is doing. It has been an honor to watch him become more confident and when I visited him at work today he shared the best part of it all is making his mom proud.”
When asked what he plans to do when his TE ends in October, Gabe responded, “Go back to attending Independence Center and helping out at the Clubhouse. I want to take a short break to find another job that fits me.”
See the list of our local employment partners and find how your company can benefit from provide life-changing work opportunities to Independence Center members.