At Inland Regional Center, we have adopted an Employment First policy. This policy supports what we are working toward every day, client independence, empowerment, and community inclusion. Employment First means that integrated employment is the first option for our adult clients! In this blog, we will be sharing success stories of IRC Consumers who are working in businesses across the Inland Empire. We will also be talking a little about IRC’s client employment programs and philosophies!
Integrated Employment and IRC Programs
The term “integrated employment” can sound technical. But it just means a job where a person with a disability is making minimum wage (or better) and is working alongside people without disabilities.
The skills that are required to find, learn, and keep a job can be difficult for anyone to master. A physical and/or cognitive disability can sometimes make learning those skills even harder. That, combined with employers who may be apprehensive about hiring a person with a disability, can make integrated employment a challenge for our clients. Thankfully, IRC has a variety of employment programs.
Augustin Garcia, the first gentleman featured in this article, learned valuable job skills through our Paid Internship Program. This program makes it possible for IRC clients 18 and older to work as a paid intern. Businesses that employ a client through this program receive up to $10,400 a year to pay their intern and defray other employment costs. Pretty cool, huh?
The second gentleman featured in this story, Jarren Burt, utilized IRC’s Custom Employment program. This program paired Jarren with Easter Seals, an IRC Service Provider who worked with him to develop employment opportunities and assisted him during the hiring process.
Augustin Garcia – American Road Trip Bar and Grill
You can tell that Augustin Garcia is part of the American Road Trip family by the way his colleagues affectionately call him “Auggie.” He brings a can-do attitude and glowing smile to work with him every day. And it’s no wonder he is so happy working at American Road Trip; it’s his favorite restaurant!
Through his Adult Transition Program at Yucaipa High School, Augustin had the opportunity to learn practical skills volunteering at job sites including retail chains, drug stores, a library, and restaurants, one being American Road Trip. While volunteering, Augustin would often strike up a conversation with the American Road Trip staff and he quickly learned everyone’s names. As his time at Yucaipa High School came to an end, Keith Bishop, one of the restaurant’s owners, asked Augustin’s teacher Scott Salinas how the restaurant might keep Auggie onboard. Mr. Salinas shared a little bit about IRC and our Paid Internship Program with Keith, and the rest is history.
In August of 2017, Auggie began as a paid intern with American Road Trip Bar and Grill! Throughout the next year, he began learning the restaurant business as a busser. He is known to say, “I love a challenge” and takes on any task with enthusiasm. He works hard to keep the dining room in tip-top shape and was hired on as a full-fledged employee in July 2018, at the end of his internship!
Auggie has the support of his job coach, Karen Grimaldi from VIP Solutions, to help him as he continues to learn the tricks of the trade. In addition to his bussing duties, he is now working in the kitchen helping with food preparation!
Outside of work, Auggie is a huge wrestling fan! His favorite wrestler is John Cena! For his birthday last year, his teammates at American Road Trip threw him a birthday party and gifted him tickets to a WWE event. Auggie is also a steadfast saver. He is currently saving up to help his parents buy a new car. What a guy!
Jarren Burt – Better K9
Jarren Burt is a kind and welcoming young man with a passion for animals. His knowledge of dogs and dog breeds is described as encyclopedic! His love of dogs and his mellow demeanor made him a fantastic fit for his employer, Better K9. Better K9 in Corona offers dog boarding and daycare in a cage-free, off-leash environment. Dog safety, happiness, and care is of the utmost importance to the business, and Jarren has a big hand in that!
Jarren began volunteering at Better K9, a few hours a week in February of 2018. After seeing his natural ability and ease with the dogs, Better K9 owners Veronica and Audrey Selaya knew Jarren had the potential to be an awesome dog handler at their facility. His ability to enter a pack without fear while treating the pups with individual care and attention really stood out!
Jarren is integral to the Better K9 team. He works supervising and interacting with the dogs, handles feedings and health checks, and ensures the facility is clean and sanitized. He is currently completing a dog handling course with both online and in-person components.
Here’s what Jarren said about his job. “I like my job at Better K9 because I get the opportunity to work closely with animals in a safe controlled environment. It’s very stimulating handling so many rambunctious dogs all in one place together. My absolute favorite part of the job is when I feed the dogs their meals in the afternoon, because it gives me the perfect chance to see how they behave.” He also shared how he feels he as grown since starting at better K9. He said, “I’ve taken a few necessary steps closer to becoming more independent. And I’m learning vital job skills that will hopefully assist my chances of finding jobs in the future.
Outside of work, Jarren likes to play video games on his many Nintendo gaming systems. He’s also a huge fan of watching videos online.
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