Opinion

Giving someone a try | Klaas

Trevor is meticulous on the job.

Despite a developmental disability, the young man puts in a good's day work for A+ Recycling in Auburn.

Kind hands gave him a chance, and he's thankful for it.

"Trevor does a good job," said manager Steve Breen. "He takes computers apart, keeps things clean and in order."

Breen decided to give Trevor a shot. He is one of several students – many from the Auburn and Kent school districts – who have found work through the support of Trillium Employment Services. For nearly 30 years, the nonprofit organization has helped provide employment opportunities for local individuals with developmental disabilities.

Getting a job in today's market is difficult enough for teens and young adults. Just imagine how challenging it must be for the disabled.

Some local businesses understand and are willing to take a chance on someone – someone with autism, Down syndrome or other disorders.

"We all have our disadvantages, some are greater than others," Breen said. "Somebody gave you a chance. Somebody gave me a chance."

Several Auburn-area businesses have hired Trillium-supervised workers.

Trillium – in its four-year partnership with the Kent School District – has found part- and full-time jobs for students who have navigated the district's Transition Opportunity Program (TOP). Students gain life skills and become work-ready with the help of the school district.

Like all young adults, these students want to work and earn a paycheck. Trillium hopes to find the right fit for some 20 candidates this spring.

Businesses hit with layoffs often find cost-saving hirings through Trillium. That the students aren't likely to move away for college or other career pathways appeals to some businesses struggling with turnover at entry-level positions.

Still, some businesses aren't willing to go that far.

"We find that niche ... and that keeps us pretty competitive," said Karen Williams, Trillium program development director. "But the reality is these students are competing with other young adults for jobs. They may not have as much work history, and businesses may be apprehensive ... or nervous ... and that's the support that we provide."

At no cost to the business, Trillium supplies onsite job coaching and helps train workers to become independent and self-sufficient.

"We try to engage many businesses that haven't considered that they could benefit from one of these young adults as an employee," Williams said. "We encourage businesses to employ them.

"These young adults are eager to start a career in the community where they live, shop and play."

Breen, for one, is willing to do his part and give someone an opportunity.

"Trillium is a good outfit," he said, "and Trevor is a good worker."

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