It's really difficult to choose one word to describe my career because it has been so exciting (and that's kind of generic) - so I'm choosing 'fluid'. I'm like a poster child for transferable skills, one door has led to many and I have walked through several.

What am I talking about?

Having always worked with anyone and everyone but never a specific or particular demographic, I never could have predicted in a million years that I would have one of the very most important professional experiences of my career in work readiness for people with intellectual / developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism. But, it's true. This month marks my two-year anniversary with The Arc of Luzerne County.

If you have followed my blog for at least that amount of time you know I worked as Director of Workforce Development and Human Resources for The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Business and Industry at the end of the great recession. Hard times befell that organization and they eliminated Economic Development - and therefore Workforce Development, which was nestled under its wing - aka my department. And, with only a handful of employees remaining they had also had no further need for inhouse HR. It was a great job, I loved it and was sad to see it end. Lucky stars aligned and I was quite fortunate to have a variety of inquiries about my availability from various companies.

One was a real roll your sleeves up and get innovative from scratch challenge - It called my name. Because this is what I do best.

When @LuzCoArcapproached me with the intriguing idea of a sandbox project to help people who want to work but haven't been successful - do it, I signed on for an adventure. Two years later, TRACE - Transition to Community Employment - has moved from pilot program to second implementation. Yesterday, the fall semester began. Returning second year students began the work experience portion of the program, and new students entered the classroom. The excitement was incredible.

TRACE is a two year work readiness program developed by The Arc of Luzerne County, in partnership with the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and delivered through Luzerne County Community College for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism.

The program is comprised of one year of structured employment preparation that includes customized life and employability skills training, career exploration and mentoring, and one year of a case managed experiential learning work apprenticeship related to aptitudes, career goals and skill development of the individual, and work/life balance programming in the community.

The purpose of the program is to successfully transition individuals with intellectual disabilities who want to work from day programs, sheltered work environments, schools and common home and institutional activities to the modern demands of todays results-oriented workplace where customers, clients, and performance drive the bottom line.

PA Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit

If you are in PA and work under the HR careers umbrella (HRCI credits pending), are a corporate leader, service provider to individuals with different abilities, government employee who works with employment or services for those with disabilities, or a person with a disability of any kind who wants to work or improve their career, you simply must attend the 2013 PA Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES), October 23-25, in Camp Hill. @PADESummit, aims to bring together employers, related government agencies, service providers and people with disabilities, to discuss challenges, opportunities, case studies of programs of excellence, advancements in adaptive technology, supports, suggestions for systems improvements, and other important topics. Be sure to like PADES on Facebook too!

I'm delighted and looking forward to presentingbreakout session #25 TRACE - Transition to Community Employment, along with some of the program's students.

There is no cost to attend the three-day summit and hotel rooms are discounted. Registration is open and I hope to see you there. Let me know if you'll be there, I would love to chat with you over coffee.


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