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Longmont Downtown Development Authority contracts with Sample Supports to employ intellectually disabled workers
Daily Times-Call - 2/12/2019
Feb. 12--The Longmont Downtown Development Authority often hires individuals with intellectual disabilities to help out with its various programs and promotions.
Until this week the authority used Imagine Core/Labor Services, as well as Sample Supports, to find those employees. Starting in mid-February, however, it will solely use Sample Supports.
"Sample Supports is located right here in downtown and they provide one-on-one coaching for each of the employees, which will allow them to spread out a bit more and take on more projects," said Kimberlee McKee, the executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority. "Plus we wanted to have one contact where we find all these employees."
Those hired, often around three to five people per week depending on the authority's need, are tasked with everything from distributing literature to local businesses, hanging concert posters or event flyers, changing out information in the authority's downtown kiosks or cleaning up litter along Main Street.
For many of the employees, it's far more than just a minimum wage paycheck. It's a chance to get out and engage with their community.
"There's a sense of pride and belonging that comes with these jobs," said Kyle Marian, the supported employment manager for Sample Supports. "You can see their whole mind frame change within the first couple shifts. It changes what they're working for, why they're working for it, the value in it and the responsibility. It affects who they are as a person. For some of our clients, it might be a reason for them to get up in the morning that they didn't have before."
Marian said the growing partnership with the Longmont Downtown Development Authority is the perfect opportunity to get more of his clients into the workforce.
"Making these jobs competitive and integrative is a big thing for us," he said. "What better way to be involved in a community than helping to clean it up."
Due to the nature of the jobs, Marian also noted they could be offered to people with a wide range of intellectual disabilities. Those whose conditions make them particularly detailed oriented, he said would be perfect candidates as their perceived weaknesses could be transformed into strengths.
While only five clients will be given the opportunity to work with the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, Sample Supports' other services for children and adults with disabilities include day programs, independent living assistance, support for family caregivers and help with behavioral and mental health needs. Samples Restaurant, Carmen and Mark Sample's other business, also provides employment opportunities.
Imagine Core/Labor Services continues to offer classes and employment placement services as well, but did not return a request for comment in this story.
John Spina: 303-473-1389, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jsspina24
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