Hey, this is really cool!
A former customer of UCP Oregon was one of the consultants for Portland’s new inclusive playground at Gabriel Park.
You might remember Linda from her days as a customer of UCP Oregon's Supported Employment Services.
Linda used our services while she worked as a research assistant in Portland State University’s Universal Design Lab. She was also featured in one of our Annual Reports.
Linda recently served on Portland Parks & Recreation's Gabriel Park Playground Advisory Committee.
Linda was born in Portland—a city with numerous beautiful parks—but, as Linda says, when she went to the playground as a kid, “I could not do anything, but I would sit my feet in the wading pool.”
That's why Linda was delighted to serve on the Gabriel Park Playground Advisory Committee. While Linda wishes inclusive playgrounds had existed when she was a kid, late is better late than never!
The new playground officially opened on May 14th.
Hello! Here we are, almost two years into the pandemic.
UCP’s Supported Employment division (“Employment Solutions”) is hard at work.
We support adults with disabilities to have great jobs in the community. As you might imagine, this can be somewhat difficult during a pandemic. But our customers are working, challenging themselves, getting raises and promotions, starting new jobs, and making new connections.
Being able to celebrate their successes keeps us smiling, even though we (like you!) are tired.
Here are a few recent stories that will make YOU smile, too!
Happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)!
As you might have seen, we recently profiled one of UCP’s customers, Emanuel. Emanuel uses supports from UCP Oregon to work at a Portland-area hospital as a Transportation Aid.
So now we’re profiling one of our employees, Lara, who works with Emanuel. Lara is a Job Coach at UCP, and has been working for UCP for three years.
Here’s what Lara has to say about working with Emanuel:
How long have you been working with Emanuel?
“Emanuel and I began working together early in 2021. At that time, our Supported Employment team wasn’t providing in-person supports due to the pandemic, so initially, Emanuel and I communicated primarily through text message. Over time, we developed the plan we have now, which is a combination of remote and in-person support.”
How would you describe Emanuel?
“Emanuel has incredible perseverance; he maintains his job as a front-line worker in the pandemic while also balancing time consuming personal obligations every day. I appreciate that, despite working exhaustingly long hours, Emanuel still has the capacity to be a forward thinker and outline aspirations for his future. Emanuel is an incredibly caring person and a thoughtful communicator.”
Thanks for the info, Lara!
PS: You can learn more about UCP Oregon’s Supported Employment division (“Employment Solutions”) here.
For National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we thought it would be cool to profile one of UCP’s customers, Emanuel.
Emanuel uses services from UCP’s Employment Solutions division. He works at a Portland-area hospital, and has had his job (Transportation Aid) for more than six years.
Here’s what Emanuel has to say about his job:
What are your job duties?
“My job duties vary. I collect labs from the clinic. I also transport beds, stretchers, wheelchairs, and items such as pumps to other departments. I also run the elevator for patients to get to their destination.”
What do you like about your job?
“My co-workers. I have good co-workers who help me out if I need help or have questions. I also have good supervisors.
What is it like working at a hospital during a pandemic?
“It has been really tough for me—I need to be extra cautious so that I will not contract the virus because of other issues with my health. I am getting through it, but it is not easy.
Is there anything else you want to share?
“For people who might think working at a hospital is not possible for them. I want to tell them ‘no, it IS possible for you’.”
“In the hospital you need to talk to people a lot, and that is hard for me, but time went by and I got used to it. At times it is still difficult—sometimes people don’t understand me—but that doesn’t mean that I can’t work at the hospital.”
“I want people to know that what I do is not impossible with a disability. ‘Go for it,’ is what I say.”
And congratulations on your six-year anniversary at the hospital!
It's October, and you know what that means... Halloween... and NDEAM!
NDEAM stands for "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." NDEAM happens every October, but at UCP Oregon, we believe in creating and celebrating access and opportunity every day!
PS: you can learn more about UCP Oregon's fantastic supported employment division (Employment Solutions) here.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce changes to UCP Oregon’s Supported Employment Department (“Employment Solutions”).
Employment Solutions supports adults who experience disabilities to find and keep fulfilling jobs in the community. As you might imagine, COVID-19 has had a huge effect on this department.
In March of 2020, most of the department’s employed customers lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions, with very few able to be rehired in a contracting economy.
Over the intervening months, we have attempted to keep the department as whole as possible. We applied for (and received) COVID-19 relief grants. But three layoffs were necessary in July, and we are now forced to restructure again.
Department changes include:
These changes will have a tremendous impact on UCP Oregon’s community. We are saying goodbye to some of our best and brightest, including our Employment Solutions Director, Melissa Miller. Read more about Melissa, and her contributions, here.
Affected customers and employees have been informed, but if you have questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
As many of you know, UCP has been forced to implement layoffs in our Supported Employment Department.
One of the biggest changes was that the department’s Director, Melissa Miller, was laid off. We’d like to take a moment to celebrate and honor Melissa’s achievements at UCP.
Melissa started at UCP more than 17 years ago. She applied to be a “Roommate” (a live-in caregiver), hoping to get a job and a place to live. As she says, though, she ended up finding “a family, a community and a mission.”
That mission? As Melissa says, it’s to “PUSH THE ENVELOPE and NEVER STOP PUSHING for those who need support.”
Over the years, Melissa worked in many of UCP’s departments, supporting and interacting with hundreds of customers and employees. She met her husband at UCP, and started her own family. Meanwhile, Melissa was creating a new department, Employment Solutions, and serving as a statewide advocate and voice.
As UCP’s Executive Director, Ann Coffey says, “Melissa is bold, fearless, opinionated, hard-working, and full of gusto. She moves mountains. And she will continue to push the envelope for equity and justice, wherever she may roam.”
Melissa’s right-hand woman, Nicole Vivanco, will step into a new role as manager of the Employment Solutions team.
Learn more about recent changes to Employment Solutions here.
Happy NDEAM to you!
Wondering what NDEAM means? It stands for "National Disability Employment Awareness Month," and it happens every October.
The 2020 NDEAM is pretty special. That's because we're celebrating both the 75th observance of NDEAM... and the 30th anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)!
Both milestones are being celebrated across the country with a range of events, all centering on the theme "Increasing Access and Opportunity."
UCP Oregon's fantastic supported employment division (Employment Solutions) creates "access and opportunity" every day!
Congratulations to a UCP customer, Linda Akagi! Linda was accepted for her first research publication--Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Artificial Intelligence!
Linda Akagi, B.S., is a research assistant in the at the PSU Universal Design Lab, and experiences cerebral palsy and complex communication needs. Linda leads the AAC Design Council, a forum for people with complex communication needs to influence the direction of AAC technology and research. She is dedicated to helping serve children, teenagers, and adults obtain AAC systems and be inspired to change people’s expectations.
PS: Kudos, too, to Linda's UCP Employment Specialist (Alex Raines of UCP Oregon’s Employment Solutions), who assisted Linda to get her job at PSU.