Community integration is no small task for adults with disabilities,
but Boost Collaborative’s Employment Support Services aim to make this task a
little less daunting.
Teresa Driver, director of Employment Support Services,
said the employment branch of Boost Collaborative starts with people ages 18 to
21, helping them transition into the working world after they graduate from
high school. From then until retirement at
age 64, Boost provides ongoing employment support including job training, resume-building
and finding work.
“It is our goal for everyone to have competitive
employment in the community,” Driver said.
While long-term support is common, she said, Boost also
provides services for people in short-term vocational rehab. This may include people who have suffered from a
recent accident or medical diagnosis which causes them difficulty in
re-entering the workforce.
People with disabilities who take part in Boost’s
vocational program go through a series of stages to determine their employment
readiness, Driver said. If someone has never had a job, they may do a trial
period, with Boost employees providing job coaching and community-based
While job training can take place in-house at the Boost
office or at the affiliated
Palouse Treasures, there are a number of local employers who partner with
Boost Collaborative to take on employees. This includes Northside Dining on
campus, the downtown catering service Oak on Main and the McDonald’s on Grand
“Our position is just to help people with special needs
get job experience,” McDonald’s area supervisor Brooke Marriott said. “Some
train here, and some train for a while to move on to other jobs.”
Marriott said the restaurant usually has two or three
Boost employees working there at a time. They go through the regular three-day
job training alongside their individual job coaches, she said, so the coaches
know what standards need to be met.
She said the business makes accommodations for employees
who are unable to complete certain tasks, with
personality taking a front seat in the hiring process.
“We’re just looking for somebody who wants to work and is
excited to work,” Marriott said. “We look for those people who are excited to
use their skills.”
Another service Boost provides, Driver said, is community
inclusion. This program’s intent is to involve people with developmental
disabilities under age 64 who, after a nine-month trial period, are unable to
find ongoing employment. This service helps these people find connections and
opportunities in the community with the deeper goal of finding employment better
suited to their needs.
Boost also provides engagement services, she said, which
allows retired people over the age of 64 to set goals for getting out into the
community. This might include attending a senior lunch, she said, or getting
involved with the public library.
“That just started [last year], and we’re really excited that we’re getting it up and running,” Driver said.
In 2017-18, Driver
said Boost Collaborative had about an 85 percent success rate for getting
“I think we’re very fortunate here in Whitman County,”
she said. “We have a great, great many employers who understand the importance
of integration, but they also understand that just because an individual has a
disability doesn’t mean they’re not able to do a good job.”