By Aly Norling
Brette is a smart, bold, funny islander who always speaks her mind. Brette recently began working at Vashon Thriftway and utilizes a job coach accommodation through AtWork! – a supported-employment nonprofit organization that works throughout Washington state to match people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with good jobs in their communities.
Brette and I shared a pot of Bella Coola tea at Anu Rana’s and chatted about supported employment.
A: Brette, why did you choose to work at Vashon Thriftway?
B: I wanted to work on Vashon because I didn’t want to deal with the ferries anymore. But also, it’s a nice community here.
A: What do you think it is about the Thriftway that – ?
B: It’s about the people, and I’m not alone. There’s people around me, so I’m not left to fend for myself.
A: Do you like your job?
B: Oooh yeah. I get to stock different stuff each time I go. I get to see my favorite coworkers every day.
A: What do you like about your coworkers?
B: They’re nice and we get to talk about work things, and also I give them great advice and some people say I’m sweet. Because I’m really kind.
A: Why do you like having a job?
B: Because I have more freedom to be an adult and not like a little kid. Or treated like a little kid.
A: Do you have any dreams for your career onward?
B: For me, I’m going to do artwork and work on Vashon here as long as I can.
A: What would you say to someone out in the Vashon community with a disability who is thinking about making use of supported employment?
B: It’s a really good idea. You have more options. If you need help doing things, they can help you along the way. And if you’re shy about doing different things, they can build up your confidence.
A: Cool! What would you tell a business thinking of participating in supported employment?
B: I would say it’s very helpful to the community, and it will be good for them because you never know what we might pull out of the hat! Because you never know what kind of disability a person has, it’s just of the luck. And if it works out for them, it works out for the business too. It depends on the business if they want disabled people working there or not.
A: Is there anything else you want to say about supported employment?
B: Those are all the questions?
B: I breezed through them!
A: You did!
B: If you ever want to – or if things don’t go your way – just push yourself forward. And make your life happier. And if there’s a passion you want to do, they can help you through that.
For more information about AtWork! and how to begin services, visit atworkwa.org or call (425) 274-4000.
For Island businesses wishing to discuss partnerships with AtWork!, contact Aly at AlyN@atworkwa.org.