Ethan graduated from Northwest High School in 2012. He had expressed interest in employment services and was identified for Customized Employment, a person-centered approach to finding employment. This involved observing Ethan in different social and work environments as well as interviewing Ethan and those who knew him best. The goal was to identify themes that arose from the conversations and observations and target potential employers based on the themes. Three themes were discovered for Ethan: Performing Arts & Entertainment, Hospitality & Food Service, and Technology & Data Search.
Ethan then began receiving community-based services at Cross Plains, choosing to participate in areas of interest and allowing observations in various settings. His skills were enhanced by becoming an active volunteer at Providence Ministries and The Salvation Army, among others. In 2014 CPCP hired a Job Developer who made it a mission to contact every business identified from Ethan’s planning meetings. Ethan was eager to work but many companies were hesitant. Finally the Job Developer returned to a company that had previously shown interest but had a lack of work to offer. But this time Irene’s Cake & Candy Supply realized their need for a customized job and were willing to hire Ethan on the spot!
Customized Employment has the most success by targeting small businesses because they have the flexibility to better customize jobs. This is the case with Irene’s, where Ethan now works three days a week, specializing in making candy and chocolate-covered foods. Because Ethan has been setup with a job that matches his skills and workplace preferences, he is fully capable of performing his duties independently, freeing his coworkers to focus on creating and delivering cakes.
Services based on the interests and personalities of those we support has always been the heart of Cross Plains’ mission. Stories like Ethan’s demonstrate the success of collaborative efforts that go the extra mile.