Employment, Media & Community Connections is an important program at Hope. It uniquely combines media training and employment to improve the quality of clients’ lives. Education, volunteer activities, and paid work enable them to become valuable members of the community. Let’s meet some of the current participants.
“Hope has helped me overcome challenges and obstacles to help me achieve a pathway to stardom!”
Jordan K. was born in San Jose 24 years ago. Diagnosed with autism, he came to EMCC Whittier from a post-secondary program at San Jose Community College. Hope’s biweekly counseling sessions helped him gain part-time employment. He’s worked at our HopeTHRIFT store in Fremont, doing recovery and putting out new merchandise onto the sales floor. He’s worked as a backroom associate at TJ Maxx in Santa Clara, unwrapping new items, hanging them, adding security tags, and otherwise prepping them for the sales floor. These days he works at the Home Depot in Cupertino as a garden associate: watering, sweeping, “go backs,” recovery, and customer service.
Jordan also participates in the EMCC writer’s club. Each student chooses a topic such as poetry, short stories, or a gameshow. Jordan chose to create his own YouTube channel. It’s anonymous, just recordings of his voice. He discusses different topics that interest him, and reviews products and movies. He is very knowledgeable about action figures, and paints them as a hobby.
“Jordan has been a pleasure to have at the Whittier program. He is a great peer to his friends and a very dependable and hard worker.” –Tiffany Swinfard
“The program has always been good for me. Even when I think I am not learning new stuff, I am.”
Albert F. is 31 and lives in a group home in Watsonville. His diagnosis is intellectual disability and seizure disorder. He was referred to Hope by the San Andreas Regional Center because of EMCC’s unique program design.
At Hope he explored different employment opportunities via job development classes and learning experiences. Those included working on the leaf crew and having a mailer job at Center Water. Along with Phillip T. (see below), he’s now a regular on the UC Santa Cruz food service crew at the Crown Merrill Dining Hall, bussing tables and washing dishes. He really enjoys his job, and makes $15/hour.
He enjoys taking photographs and writing poems. In the future, he hopes to work in a retail store and have a place of his own.
“Albert has always had a lot of potential and it was important for him that we find the right work match that sparked his interests, UCSC seems to be the right place for him.” –Sheryl Hagemann, Program Manager
Phillip is 27 years old. He lives in Santa Cruz with his mom and grandparents. He has been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder and seizure disorder, but otherwise is in good health. After completing high school in 2014, Phillip and his mom toured programs and decided that Hope would be the best option for him.
Our EMCC program helped Phillip explore options. He’s a really social guy who loves being active and “in the know.” His goal for 2019 was to find a job, and Hope’s team matched him with jobs that were a good fit. He now works three days a week at the Crown Merrill Dining Hall at UC Santa Cruz, bussing tables and washing dishes. He makes $15/hour and is considering going full time. He also volunteers at the SPCA and the local library.
Phillip’s mom is so proud and delighted with his progress and his job that she once brought flowers for our Program Manager.
“Working here at Hope has given me the opportunity to support and provide care for individuals with disabilities. I chose to work at Hope Services because there is no greater feeling than helping others. I enjoy helping our clients become more independent and making a difference in my community.”
Aaron Valadez started at Hope in July 2018 as a floater Job Coach, and is now a Community Support Facilitator. He’s a perfect fit for EMCC because he embraces the media components of the program and pitches in when needed. He’s always willing to try out new ideas and brings joy and fun into everything he does. His clients and coworkers love his flexibility and enthusiasm!
How You Can Help
Every year, the lives of thousands of people like Jordan, Albert, and Phillip are helped by Hope Services employees like Aaron. We do a lot, but resource constraints mean there’s always help we wish we could provide, but can’t. Please read about the many ways you can help with donations, volunteering, and more. Thank you for your support!