Rhode Island is Breaking Barriers to Communication to Create a More Inclusive Workforce

By Sara Porcaro | Sep 30, 2020
Rhode Island, Disabilities, Inclusive, Workforce, Essential Workers, PCSEPP, Employment

Autumn is here, and with it, plenty of projects--landscaping, decorating, baking, and more. With the new season comes new opportunities and learning experiences, too, as the fall semester is also beginning both online and in-person for new students. But for individuals involved in the Person Centered Supported Employment Performance Program (PCSEPP), the fall also brings the opportunity to dive into a unique career exploration: one where they discover not only what their dream job looks like, but what traits about themselves make them the perfect fit for the roles they aspire to. That's what PCSEPP participant Nicholas has to look forward to as he continues on his journey through the program--especially as he learns the tools to become more independent along the way.
Designed for individuals who are looking for their best fit in the community, PCSEPP, funded by the RI Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), devotes much of its resources to truly getting to know an individual. From talents and interests to past experiences and styles of communication, employment professionals come together to discover exactly who an individual is. Afterwards, these professionals connect them with relevant opportunities that make the most of those strengths and unique traits. Perspectives, alongside AccessPoint RI and the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center, are working with Able Opportunities, the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMASS Boston, and Skills for Rhode Island's Future to accomplish this, and for Nicholas, a key part of that support is the ability to explore new modes of communication.
"Nicholas is non-verbal, and because of that, his past volunteer opportunity didn't quite work out," says Site Supervisor Gabrielle (Gabby) Rossi, who joined Nicholas for an afternoon outdoors. "That's why we're doing PCSEPP: to find a place he's interested in where he can showcase the skills and talents he has."
To that end, there's nothing more important than a relationship built on trust and mutual understanding, which is exactly what Nicholas has with PCSEPP, as he's working closely with Career Developer Brittany Dorrance, who knows him well after having lent a hand within the Adult Residential Program during the shelter-in-place. Together, they're building off his interest, personality, and his prior experiences, such as his volunteer work at the Charlestown ReStore. Beyond that, per our partnership with Able Opportunities, Nicholas also has the opportunity to learn new methods of job seeking and communicating on an iPad, which the program trains him to use for his job hunting going forward. He's excited to begin learning how to use the new technology, as well as how to communicate his wants and needs with others using these tools.
Gabby says, "He doesn't use many words, but Nicholas is very good at letting people know what he needs by showing them and pointing things out, and he can connect pictures to words well. I think the iPad will be a huge help for him."
With these tools, finding Nicholas's interests will be a simpler task for those who don't see his daily routine. On an average day, Nicholas is a man of the outdoors: he enjoys spending his time out hiking the local trails, sitting by the shore and picnicking in parks, or finding things to do in the yard at home. He enjoys working with his hands, both making things and taking them apart--and breaking down furniture at the ReStore was definitely one of the tasks he enjoyed the most. Before the pandemic, it wasn't uncommon that he'd go bowling with others or head out for a lunch at Applebee's, either, though now, to stay safe, he opts for open spaces and homemade meals. He's an active and energetic person, and through PCSEPP, hopes to find his first paid job after an intense discovery process and the trainings that come with the program.
"He's really such an awesome guy--so funny and sweet, really persistent and hard-working, too," says Gabby. "I hope he can make connections and friends through PCSEPP, and that he's happy wherever he works in the future."
With Nicholas's ambition, love for adventure, and dedication to a project, he's ready to take on all PCSEPP has to offer and find his fit in a work setting. The discovery process is an exciting time for all involved, where one can learn about themselves and the ways they can contribute to their community that excite them the most.
If you or someone you know qualifies for this program, you can learn more by contacting the Perspectives Employment Services team; e-mail them at employmentservices@perspectivescorporation.com or call (401) 294-3990.


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