STORIES & VIDEOS

Each year, AtWork! creates an opportunity for the community to come together and show its support for the outstanding people with disabilities who show courage and determination everyday as they pursue their own personal path to employment. These videos are a celebration of those individuals and the businesses who support our mission.

THE BELLEVUE SCHOOL DISTRICT

2019 INCLUSION CHAMPION OF THE YEAR

Since 2006, King County’s School-to-Work (S2W) program has provided resources and support to AtWork! and other providers to provide transition services to over 1400 students; of which, over 800 graduated with a good job. The unique, nationally recognized program blends the resources of King County, Washington State’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation — and in Bellevue, the Bellevue School District– so that students get services and expertise of community providers while still in school.

AtWork! is honored to award the 2019 Inclusion Champion of the Year award to the Bellevue School District. In our almost ten years of successful partnership, we can say without a doubt that they are an extraordinary team of educators, endlessly working to ensure that all students receive equitable services and have access to all necessary resources. As a district, they are comprised of diverse voices and perspectives and are an exemplary example of inclusion.

MY LIFE, MY PLAN. MEET IVANOVA

VIDEO BY PAVE

Setting expectations for your children is an essential responsibility of parenting. Expectations communicate messages about what’s important to your family and establish a standard toward which your children can strive. But expectations can be double-edged swords for those with disabilities.

Activist Advocate Ivanova Smith speaks about her upbringing and the influential role her mother played in her development. With high expectations for Ivanova, her mother was able to teach her how to read despite the school’s belief that she couldn’t. She excelled, and it broke down many of her barriers in academia. Her family continued to inspire her, and never let her disability become an excuse.

Today, she’s striving to change the way parents set expectations for their children with disabilities and encouraging parents to be more like her mother. Children with disabilities are talented, dynamic, and influential to our communities, and our lives. Let’s inspire them to change the world, just like Ivanova.

SEATTLE GYMNASTICS ACADEMY

2018 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Seattle Gymnastics Academy, Inc. is a progressive gymnastics program located in the Seattle area since 1985. Their dedicated staff are committed to developing strength, skill, and character through gymnastics training in a fun and sage gym.

SGA has two facilities in the Lake City Seattle area totaling 26,000 square feet, one in Ballard, and one in Columbia City. SGA employs over 130 people teaching over 4,800 students everything from body control, starting with 12-month-old children, to progressive and competitive gymnastics. SGA also proudly offers two preschools, one in Lake City and one in Ballard. “Our preschool program is a unique morning-or-afternoon program featuring exploratory learning and movement focuses that include gymnastics every day.

Seattle Gymnastics Academy began working with AtWork! in 2015, and their commitment to inclusiveness has resulted in increased morale as their employees have embraced the value of diversity. AtWork! is pleased and honored to partner with Seattle Gymnastics Academy. We thank them for being and exemplary business partner in our communities and positive example of encouragement, and wise business practices by employing people with disabilities.

DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE, LLP

2017 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Davis Wright Tremaine has nine offices in the U.S. and Shanghai, and is particularly renowned for its leading role in many of the country’s most important and cutting-edge cases. Despite their large footprint, they are not only committed to, but passionately embrace diversity and inclusion. It is central to who they are and what they do. They have demonstrated this value by employing Paige and Arthur in their Bellevue office.

Davis Wright Tremaine was recently featured in NW Lawyer magazine talking about their positive working experience with AtWork! and the positive effects of hiring people with disabilities to the overall office environment. In the article, Deb Zaha, Office Administrator wrote, “In early 2016, we hired Paige. Once again, the benefits were immediate. When she is in our office, there is a noted increase in office morale. Not only is there an improvement in staff efficiency because of the work she does, but everyone at the firm is proud of the fact that we have been able to accommodate employees who often have difficulty obtaining employment.” Former partner-in-charge, Mark Berry, says, “Our experiences over the past few years have been extraordinarily positive for the office and those who work here. I encourage any employer to consider employees through programs like AtWork!”

AtWork! is pleased and honored to partner with this high-quality organization, and would like to thank them for not only demonstrating the values that employees with disabilities bring to the workforce, but their leadership in encouraging other Davis Wright Tremaine offices around the country to follow their example.

COSTCO WHOLESALE

2016 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Costco Wholesale is a multi-billion dollar global retailer with warehouse club operations in eight countries. They are the recognized leader in the field, dedicated to quality in every area of business and respected for outstanding business ethics. Despite Costco Wholesale’s large size, they continue to provide a family atmosphere where their employees thrive and succeed. In addition, Washington CEO Magazine named them as one of the top three companies to work for in the state of Washington.

Costco Wholesale’s leadership goes beyond their corporation and into the community, where they quietly and humbly act as leaders in true corporate citizenship; creating better communities wherever they do business. Costco Wholesale’s new corporate headquarters in Issaquah first hired Rory. Jennifer was hired shortly thereafter, and then Chris. Costco Wholesale currently employs 6 people with disabilities supported by AtWork!.

Costco Wholesale employees earn good wages and enjoy a work atmosphere that is positive and supportive. Like all dedicated Costco Wholesale employees, Rory, Jenn, and Chris know that they are an important part of a big company, and what they do makes a difference. Costco Wholesale employs people with disabilities in many communities across Washington and beyond. AtWork! and Costco Wholesale often host visitors from around the country and the world who come to learn about integrated community employment from the best, nationally recognized partnerships. Together we have changed so many faces…the faces that now beam with the transformative power of employment.

We at AtWork! are pleased to partner with this quality organization, and would like to thank them for demonstrating the value that employees with disabilities bring to the workforce.

DIRECT INTERACTIONS

2015 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Direct Interactions is an outsourced call center provider, operating contact centers for fifty US cities including Seattle, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Oakland, and New York City. Their mission is to use technology to provide domestic work opportunities for those who typically aren’t considered employable, including military families and people with disabilities.

Central to the success of the partnership between AtWork! and DI has been their commitment to supporting employees who use a wide variety of assistive technologies (AT). When AtWork! starting exploring the possibility of jobs at DI, they immediately thought of Bob Brookens. Bob’s only voluntary movement is his head, and he doesn’t use words to speak. However, he has always had an interest in computers and a desire for work. Collaborating with DI, Bob’s father Doug, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and AT Engineer Bill Youngman, Hillary got Bob hooked up with a computer and adaptive devices that would meet the needs of a position with DI. He was hired in September 2011, and continues to work there. Since then, they have hired four additional employees supported by AtWork!.

Matt Storey, President of Direct Interactions stated: “DI is honored to be recognized by AtWork!. With their help in 2014, we were able to hire more people with disabilities than ever before and we are excited to continue our successful partnership with them for many years to come.

SEATTLE BOAT COMPANY

2014 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Seattle Boat Co. is a premier marine dealership situated in the heart of the world’s finest, most spectacular boating waterways. Seattle Boat prides themselves on being a company founded on creativity and innovation, which made them a perfect match for AtWork!.

Owner Alan arranged a meeting with members of his management team and AtWork! to go over the standard questions, the tough questions, and all the questions in-between. By the end of the meeting, neither Alan nor his staff waivered away from the original commitment – two jobs to the right candidates. The next step was to introduce candidates to Alan and the hiring managers and schedule interviews. The responsibilities developed through the discussions, and required a broad skill set: a good level of independence, decision-making, safety awareness, physical strength and stamina, and, most importantly, a love of boats and water. In June, Seattle Boat successfully hired two employees through AtWork!’s School to Work program in the Bellevue School District. One individual works in their Seattle location, tending boats, tending the offices and grounds, and supporting the service department. Another works at the Newport Marina location in Bellevue, tending the boats and assisting with Seattle Boat’s innovative FunShare boating program.

Aside from acquiring two skilled, dedicated employees to their workforce, Seattle Boat Company also received a bonus- an affirmation that courage is its own reward. What they’re new employees bring to their respective work-sites each day is the reinforcement of ideals that built Seattle Boat Company: Being responsible for yourself, defining your identity on your terms not what the world says you should be, and never being afraid to take on the next challenge.

COINSTAR, INC.

2012 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Coinstar, Inc., a leader in automated retail, delivers retail products and services to consumers via self-service interactive kiosks, most notably the highly recognized Redbox® DVD rental and Coinstar® coin-counting brands. They began making strides toward becoming a more environmentally sustainable company including encouraging more employees to commit to recycling at their desks. Inspired by AtWork!’s role in Costco’s recycling program, Nicole Trimble, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, worked with staff and board members at AtWork! to develop a job description and place an employee who could help facilitate culture change around environmental sustainability. Coinstar needed a person to be a consistent reminder of the importance of recycling for the earth and for the company’s bottom line and hoped AtWork! would be able to help fill this role.

AtWork! assisted Coinstar in drafting a job description and immediately identified David Kilmer as a candidate who would excel at the job and in Coinstar’s culture. The employees at Coinstar knew David would become an important member of their team and officially welcomed him as an employee on Earth Day 2011. The company looked to David as they’re first “Green Ambassador” visiting everyone’s desk to collect and encourage recycling. David is a regular employee and works part-time, five days a week unaccompanied by a job coach. He was so effective at reminding people to recycle that habits were changed and he grew out of this role. Now David helps maintain a supply of durable kitchen goods, so employees do not use paper cups or plates as alternatives. David is highly effective at his job not only because he works hard, but is also extremely kind and personable.

The Corporate Social Responsibility team is responsible for many inspiring initiatives at Coinstar such as Community engagement, carbon emissions reduction and philanthropy, but they often note that they receive more positive feedback about David than anything else they do at the company.

DRUGSTORE.COM

2011 SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR
AtWork! awarded Drugstore.com it’s Supporter of the Year award in 2011. Jim Cunningham, Drugstore.com’s Senior HR Manager, got to thinking about his company and how it’s eastern distribution center was being proactive in hiring people with disabilities. He wanted to find a similar opportunity in their headquarters in Bellevue, so he called AtWork!. AtWork! Employment Consultants immediately spent time with Jim, conducting a job tour to identify what jobs were needed within the company that simply were not getting done.

Starting in 2006, AtWork! underwent a revolutionary 10 year transformation to close their sheltered workshops and focus on supported employment in the community. When Margaret was in the workshop, she always stood out as an exemplary employee because of her incredible organization skills, her ability to sign, and laser sharp focus. During Margaret’s discovery portion of her employment journey, her employment consultants discovered her love for office environment tasks and that she enjoyed cleaning and tidying.

Margaret was the perfect choice from the start, but her family needed a bit more convincing. Her mom was nervous about the change, afraid that Margaret wouldn’t fit in or that something bad would happen while she was gone. Over time, Margaret finally convinced her family, “Let’s try just one new thing.”

Margaret had an amazing career at Drugstore.com until they closed their doors in 2016. Now Margaret is employed at her community Goodwill and is enjoying her career.

DUNN LUMBER

SUPPORTER OF THE YEAR

Dunn Lumber views its employees as if they are an extension of its family and treats them as such. Company President Mike Dunn says, “We got into this with one or two individuals and just saw it grow. It matched our company and family values, and employing people with disabilities just became an extension of that commitment to community.”

Today, Dunn Lumber has a person with disabilities working in eight out of their twelve store locations and have an ambition to have at least one person with a disability in every store.

Watch this engaging video to learn how having a job and feeling valued has profoundly impacted the life of one person with a disability and his family.

GREAT HIRES VIDEO

BENEFITS OF HIRING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

“Great Hires” showcases the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities. This B2B video introduces viewers to local employers who have opened their doors to this valuable and often overlooked labor pool. Those featured include respected King County business leaders Howard Schultz, Chair of Starbucks; Pat Hagen, COO of Children’s Hospital; Bret Stewart, President of CenterTwist, Inc.; and King County Executive Ron Sims. These leaders, along with three featured employees, show why hiring individuals with disabilities makes good business sense.

“Great Hires” was created by King County Developmental Disabilities Division in partnership with the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment, a Washington state non-profit that specializes in training and technical assistance supporting people with developmental disabilities in community jobs, and Don Porter of King 5 News.