PERSPECTIVES: Profound Impact of Supported Employment

By Blake Hall

When I was made aware of Take Your Legislator to Work Day (TYLTWD), Matthew Roush was the first person that came to my mind. I first thought of Matt because it was he who first helped me to understand what supported employment is supposed to look like in an integrated and competitive environment, like SunTrust.

When I presented the idea to Matt, he was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. Even more so, his supervisors and co-workers became completely invested in making sure that TYLTWD was the type of event that Matt deserves. Everyone worked together to make sure that Rep. Sheila Jones was accommodated and warmly welcomed, but most importantly, that Matt and his accomplishments were the center of attention.

The event went exceptionally well, as Matt was able to share what his work has meant to him, and his co-workers were able to open up about the positive personal impacts they’ve experienced from sharing an office with a person who has a disability. Being able to partake in such a powerful display of recognition for someone as hardworking as Matt served as a personal reminder of why I accepted the task of being a Career Specialist at Briggs & Associates.

I took the position at Briggs & Associates in September of 2016 when I moved to Atlanta. Upon researching the company, their philosophy became clear: to promote inclusivity and integration into the community through meaningful careers for those living with disabilities. Having worked at a day center for adults with disabilities previously, it was obvious that working with Briggs & Associates would be the most logical next step in my passionate pursuit of helping individuals live their best possible lives.

The position of a Career Specialist felt like an amazing dream come true to me. During my first week of training, it was Matt who helped me to see the Briggs’ philosophy in practice. Being able to work alongside of and help to empower people living with disabilities is what initially brought me to this field. Since working with Briggs & Associates, I have been able to do that within a capacity that I never imagined until being introduced to the profound impact of supported employment.

It is this profound impact that I hope was also introduced to Rep. Shelia Jones. It is my wish that she was able to see that employment for people with disabilities can mean a wide variety of jobs, and that there is a population of individuals who have been historically limited in their pursuits, but are becoming increasingly empowered to enter boldly into their communities to work and live alongside of everyone else.

The choice to embrace supported employment is beneficial for all involved. It gives employers the opportunity to utilize dedicated, hard working and special individuals to their maximum potential, while simultaneously allowing those individuals to feel the same sense of accomplishment and belonging that each and every one of us deserves to experience.

Blake Hall is a Career Specialist with Briggs & Associates and lives in Atlanta, GA. Hall began working in the disabilities field directly after graduating from White County High School in Cleveland, GA. Blake’s experience in multiple settings within the disabilities field and his passion for advocating for individuals with disabilities ultimately led him to the Supported Employment field. Blake is currently studying psychology at the University of North Georgia and enjoys playing music and traveling with his wife in his spare time.

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Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, Making a Difference, disabilities,, Take Your Legislator To Work Day