We are so excited to share the achievements of our customer, Henry Meece.
Henry uses services from UCP Oregon’s Supported Employment Department (also known as Employment Solutions). He works at Fulcrum Fitness, serving as a janitor at their SE location.
About his job, Henry says, “I like all the UCP Job Coaches I’ve had, and I like cleaning the gym when it’s quiet and everyone is gone for the day.”
But Henry is far more famous for winning medals at the X Games.
The X Games are an extreme sport competition, and are covered live on the X Games YouTube and Twitch channels. The Games happen twice a year—in the summer and in the winter—and usually consist of skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, and BMX biking.
Henry started competing in the X Games in 2015. He describes the X Games as “challenging and crazy fun.” He adds, “In the X Games, we are paired with a pro or celebrity, and we each get one run down the red and blue course. We add our fastest times together and the top three times receive Gold, Silver or Bronze medals.”
Henry competes in a snowboarding category called “Unified Slalom.” Slalom is an exciting event! It involves racing down over a zigzagging course, having to turn and adjust quickly as you move between narrowly-spaced flags. Henry would love it if the X Games also added a category called “banked slalom,” competing on a twisty curvy course with banked turns.
Together with his first partner, Chris Klug, Henry won four consecutive Gold medals. Henry was paired with Jack Mitrani in 2020 and took home the Bronze. Last week, Henry and Chris Klug were reunited as partners and together they won third place, adding a Bronze medal to their collection.
Congratulations, Henry! We’re so proud of you!
PS: Want to learn more about the 2023 X Games? Click this link—you can even see Henry’s most recent score.
NOTE: Photo credit goes to Francis-King and Nnamani/Special Olympics.
CONGRATS TO DIONDRE!
We’d like to give a huge shout out to Diondre, who recently celebrated his 18-year anniversary at Fred Meyer. Congratulations, Diondre!
Diondre uses UCP Oregon's Supported Employment Services (also known as Employment Solutions).
PS: Want to hear more details about Diondre and his awesome Job Coach, Rory? We have good news for you! They're both going to be profiled in an upcoming Annual Report. Woo hoo!
We are pleased to announce that Nicole Vivanco has been promoted to the position of Employment Services Director, which oversees UCP's Supported Employment Department.
Prior to this advancement, Nicole was acting as the Employment Services Manager. Nicole took on the Manager position during a very difficult time in the early months of the pandemic.
Thanks to Nicole’s dedication, the Employment Solutions team is thriving, with customers working across the Portland area. Nicole participated in agency-wide strategic planning and implementation. She also fostered productive collaboration with community partners such as mental health and developmental disabilities agencies, area Brokerages, Vocational Rehabilitation, Oregon Commission for the Blind, families, advocates, Board members, etc.
Nicole brings 9 years of experience in the field of supported employment.
Nicole says, “I am so happy to accept this new role within our department, and I am excited to continue to support our customers, employers, and the employment professionals at UCP to find success and meet their career goals.”
She adds, “I’d like to thank our community partners for their collaboration and support. Seeing a person shine—in a job that is a great match for them and their employer—is the biggest motivator for me. Supported employment is so powerful for everyone involved.”
Thank you, Nicole, for everything you’ve done and continue to do. We are excited to begin this new chapter with you.
AN UPDATE ABOUT LINDA
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.
Supported Employment Update
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!
HAPPY NDEAM, 2021!
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.
A Sad Announcement, 2021
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.
Celebrating Melissa Miller
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.