BBBSF In the NEWS
BBBSF Welcomes Pathways to Employment
For a while now, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation has worked hand in hand with Pathways to Employment to help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities find their way to gainful employment. BBBSF welcomes Pathways volunteers at The Big B Store in Brockton, MA, helping them to gain work experience and confidence.
“Our members are learning the job skills that help them get – and keep – a job,” said Rebecca Liggett, Senior Program Coordinator. “We are funded by a private donation grant that allows members up to two years to develop the skills they need. Some of our members are ready to work a regular schedule after volunteering and taking classes for just six months, others need longer.”
Big Brother Big Sister Foundation has a long history of partnering with organizations whose mission is to assist and empower those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. They have worked closely with the Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition for seven years.
“BBBSF” was founded to help kids at risk,” explains Steve Beck, BBBSF Executive Director. “But the Foundation is committed to making a difference for anyone at risk.”
Pathways volunteers work in The Big B Store three days a week. On the other days, they attend interactive classes where they sharpen soft skills such as adaptability and conflict resolution.
“The store offers different tasks for the volunteers,” Rebecca said. “From sorting shoes to wrapping glass and pricing items, there is a variety of things to do. One of our members is visually-impaired, but he does a super job of walking along the racks and getting all the dropped hangers by using his feet.”
Between the hands on work at The Big B and the classroom teachings, volunteers learn how to clarify instructions, communicate effectively and develop good customer relations skills; elements essential to job success.
“I straighten the clothing, help customers find things and help them with questions,” says Pathways member Mike, who has been working at the Big B Store for about six months. Mike would like to work in an office once he has more experience. “We use things we learn in class like clarifying instructions.”
Frank, another Pathways member, also volunteers at a hospital working in the kitchen. “I like the store and the hospital. I’d like to get a job in retail or a kitchen,” Frank says. “I am getting the experience to do that.”
The majority of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are either unemployed or underemployed, despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work in the community.*
Rebecca, who is in the process of earning a master’s degree in social work, remains onsite with volunteers during their shifts to answer questions and lend support in any way. When asked why she works with Pathways, she smiles.
“My days are rewarding, meaningful … and fun.”
For 150 years, Jewish Family & Children’s Service(JF&CS) has focused on a singular, powerful mission – to improve people’s lives. Pathways to Employment is service sponsored by the Jewish community to help people with disabilities gain the skills needed to be independent and successful at work.