Shared by John Wills

Tell us what you do at JF&CS and how you got here.
I am the Manager of Employment Programs for JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities & Mental Illness.

Pathways to Employment supports adults with disabilities in developing their "soft skills," or social skills, as they relate to the world of employment. The participants of this program are given the opportunity to volunteer with one of our community partners so they can practice hands on working skills followed by classroom sessions to discuss relevant topics and practice the new skills. As the participants spend time in the program and work on their specific individualized goals we begin the process of pursuing competitive employment.

Meaningful Days supports adults with disabilities in pursuing meaningful activities in their lives. Participants of this program often go through Pathways to Employment prior to receiving services through Meaningful Days. We are committed to developing a thorough understanding of each participant's support needs, employment desires, and skills. From developing a resume to searching for jobs to preparing for an interview, we do everything we can to ensure the individual has the tools for success and has identified a job that is a good match for their skills and experience. Once a job offer is made we provide on job support by working with the employers to assist with training and act as a support and advocate for the entire length of employment.

I've been with JF&CS for more than five years. I started as a Program Coordinator for CHAI Works. Previously I worked at an inpatient psychiatric unit for adolescents as a mental health specialist. Before I entered the human services field, I worked as a cook for several restaurants and a painter for several contractors.

Share one of your favorite experiences at JF&CS.
Every day at JF&CS is exciting and challenging so it is difficult to pick a favorite, but the first time I was able to find someone a job was probably the best. The individual had many skills but very little support to help with social or employment activities. We worked together for just shy of a year and found him a job that matched his skills, and I am happy to say that he is still gainfully employed to this day!

When you're not working, what would we find you doing?
Riding or working on my motorcycle, kayaking/fishing, working in my yard/garden, and cooking/grilling. Also, my wife and I recently became the proud owners of a 120-year-old and very dated house, so much of my free time is spent utilizing the skills I developed as a painter to brighten and update our living spaces.

What's your favorite movie?
Either Back to the Future or Donnie Darko. They are very different movies but both have awesome soundtracks and are about time travel, which I find fascinating.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a baseball player or a motocross (dirt bike) racer.