Stories & Videos

AtWork! Honors Seattle Gymnastics Academy, 2018 Employer 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, a 28,000 square foot space in Ballard, and a 20,000 square foot space 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 offer 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 currently employs 5 people with disabilities at their various locations. 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.

AtWork! Honors Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP 2017 Employer of the Year

AtWork! is pleased to honor Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP as our 2017 Employer 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. And, they have demonstrated this value by employing Paige and Arthur in their Bellevue office.

Recently, Davis Wright Tremaine was featured in an article for the NW Lawyer magazine talking about their positive experience working 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, reinforces Deb Zaha’s statement. He 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!”

We at AtWork! are 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.

AtWork! Honors Costco Wholesale, 2016 Employer of the Year

AtWork! is pleased to honor Costco Wholesale as our 2016 Employer 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, they have been named by Washington CEO Magazine 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. Rory was hired by Costco Wholesale nearly 20 years ago, when the new corporate headquarters in Issaquah were first occupied. Jennifer was hired shortly thereafter, and Chris was hired 9 years ago. Costco Wholesale currently employs 6 people with disabilities supported by AtWork!. Did you know that Rory and the previous Costco Wholesale CEO were featured in AtWork!’s first video about supported employment? Since then, hundreds of people with disabilities have found good jobs in hundreds of businesses and Costco Wholesale has helped make that happen, as one of the first to do it right.

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 really 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, faces of people with disabilities working and faces of co-workers experiencing the power of an inclusive workforce.

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.

AtWork! Honors Direct Interactions as 2015 Supporter of the year

AtWork! is pleased to honor Direct Interactions as our 2015 Supporter of the Year. Founded in 2007, 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.

When DI President, Matt Storey, met AtWork! VP of Employment Services, Lisa Latchford, Lisa immediately saw the opportunities that DI could offer for the people we serve. The flexibility their positions offer, and their commitment to supported employment, makes them a perfect employer for people with a wide variety of 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 Lisa and AtWork! Program Manager/AT Specialist Hillary Rossi 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. In partnership with DI, Bob’s father Doug, and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation’s counselor Perry Anderson 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.

AtWork! is Pleased to Present Our 2014 Supporter of the Year Award to Seattle Boat Compan

AtWork! is pleased to honor Seattle Boat Company as our 2014 Supporter of the Year. Established in 1984 and under current ownership since 1987, Seattle Boat Co. has become 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!.

Seattle Boat Company’s owner, Alan Bohling bought his first boat at age 15 after his mother denied his request to buy a car. He was not even out of his 20s when he bought a small, struggling boat dealership that he had generating over $11 million in revenue barely a decade later. And not content to follow the paths of others, Alan innovated customer service with the ‘SkyLaunch’ dry-stack storage for his customers.

So it really should not surprise anyone who knows Alan or is familiar with the Seattle Boat Company that when challenged to provide an opportunity for a person with a disability, he doubled-down.

Alan arranged a meeting with members of his management team and Joe Smith from AtWork!. He and his team asked Joe the standard questions (What will it be like? What can he or she do? What is a developmental disability?), and the tough questions (What if it doesn’t work out? What if something goes wrong? What if someone says or does something wrong?). Through all the questions and answers neither Alan nor his staff waivered away from the original commitment – 2 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 our discussions 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 hired two AtWork! clients through the 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, it is possible Seattle Boat Company also got a bonus- an affirmation to that courage is its own reward. What Jon and Michael 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.

AtWork! Recognizes Outstanding Employer, Genie, as 2013 Supporter of the Year

AtWork! is proud to honor Genie as our Supporter of the Year in 2013. Genie is a brand of Terex Arial Work Platforms, a diversified global manufacturer of a broad range of equipment that is focused on delivering reliable, customer-driven solutions for many applications, including the construction, infrastructure, quarrying, mining, shipping, transportation, refining, energy, utility and manufacturing industries. Genie manufactures products such as man-lifts, stick booms, articulated booms, light towers, and telehandlers, all in the distinctive “Genie blue.”

In 2007, Genie Associate Product Manager Mike Northcott joined AtWork!’s Board of Directors. As AtWork! grew in its confidence and skill in placing clients with a diverse range of companies, Mike began to see how there might be a place for an AtWork! client at Genie. He approached his team, and they agreed that it was an interesting idea, and fit with Genie’s overall commitment to diversity, but due to the economic downturn the time was not right to add more staff.

In 2012, the time was right. Mike arranged a meeting between Lisa Latchford, AtWork!’s Director of Employment Services; Kevin Crowder, a Production Manager at Genie, Bryan Ross from Genie’s HR department, and Ron Davids, an AtWork! Employment Consultant. They agreed that, for the right client, a spot on Genie’s production line would be a dream job: good pay, full time work, benefits, vacation – the American dream.

In September, AtWork! found Mark. He was hired by Genie, and went through their Foundations training course, a detailed precision-teaching course designed to provide hand-on training for all new factory employees. Mark excelled at the consistency required for the precise manufacturing work, and at his 180 day review he became a full time Genie staff member. “Mark is amazing,” said Robert Halverson, his original manager. “He’s so consistent, all the line supervisors want him working for them.”

Three months later, Genie decided they were ready for another AtWork! hire, and AtWork! offered Jode, an individual who came to AtWork! from the OLS Venture program at Bellevue College.  Jode just completed his first 90 days, and is also going strong. “Everyone likes Jode,” says his supervisor Casey Potts.

The partnership between AtWork! and Genie is unique in that the match between employer and employees has worked based more on the strength of Genie’s precision training processes than on the job customization that AtWork! usually does. Both Mark and Jode do the exact same job as the other people in their positions, and both have integrated so well into Genie’s team that many of their coworkers don’t even know they have disabilities. Mark and Jode see their jobs at Genie as the beginnings of a long term career, and so do their supervisors.

And Genie?  They’re ready for number three. According to HR Manager Michele Gillis, “We love it! I could easily see us doubling or even tripling the number of [AtWork! clients] we work with.”

AtWork! Honors Coinstar, Inc as 2012 Supporter of the Year

Last year Coinstar, Inc. 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! is proud to honor Coinstar, Inc. as our Supporter of the Year in 2012. 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.

Dennis Wajda assisted Coinstar to draft a job description and immediately identified David Kilmer as a candidate who would excel at the job and in Coinstar’s culture. Dennis accompanied David during his training visits which were a great success. 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. In celebration of Earth Day for 2011 all Bellevue employees were encouraged to exchange desk-side garbage cans for a recycling bin and to help remind them to use it. Coinstar states: “The company looked to David as our first “Green Ambassador” visiting everyone’s desk to collect and encourage recycling. He has been an ideal fit for the company.”

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. He is the “Mayor” on the Coinstar campus and has built relationships and friendships with employees. It is common to overhear David talking with employees about their hobbies, pets, families and the stock market.

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.

Please join us in celebrating this wonderful partnership and congratulating Coinstar, Inc. as the AtWork! Supporter of the Year.

AtWork! Client Darwin Lagos Featured in US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy Video


AtWork! is thrilled to have one of our clients featured in a new video by the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) about integrated employment in Washington State.

Darwin Lagos and his employer, Dunn Lumber, were one of two Washington State employment success stories featured in the video as demonstrating the best of integrated employment for people with disabilities. Darwin has been an AtWork! client since 2002, and has worked for Dunn Lumber since shortly after entering services.

The video will be used as part of ODEP’s Integrated Employment Toolkit, which is featured on ODEP’s website and can be viewed here. According to ODEP’s website, “ODEP has developed this Integrated Employment Toolkit to provide valuable information as individuals, community employment agencies, policymakers and others pursue integrated employment as the desired employment goal for youth and adults with disabilities. The Toolkit includes practical and, in some cases, adaptable information and documents to facilitate the movement of states, organizations and, most importantly, youth and adults to integrated employment as their primary option for employment. “

Washington State plays a significant part in the toolkit due to our state’s longstanding commitment to integrated employment and the success of the Working Age Adult Policy. In a recent national review of states, Washington led the way with over 67% of people served by the state’s system of developmental disabilities in integrated employment.

AtWork! was offered the chance to participate in the video through our involvement with the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment. AtWork! placed 33 people in integrated employment last fiscal year and currently supports 87 people who are working, paying taxes and living more independently.

AtWork! Honors At Annual Breakfast

AtWork! is pleased to announce as the 2011 recipient of its Supporter of the Year Award, given annually at the organization’s celebration breakfast. Each year AtWork! creates an opportunity for the community to come together to show its support for the outstanding people with disabilities who show courage and determination everyday as they pursue their own personal path to employment.

This year’s event was held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Bellevue, on April 13. John Curley, charity auctioneer and media personality, was the emcee, and Margaret Padilla, a valued and contributing employee of, talked about her employment experience. She has held her job for more than a year.

Jim Cunningham, from, got to thinking about how his company was proactive in hiring people with disabilities at its eastern distribution center and had the idea of finding similar opportunities at company headquarters in Bellevue. He gave AtWork! a call, and AtWork! Employment Consultants spent some time with Jim and Brooke Newman, conducting a job tour to identify what jobs were needed within the company that simply were not getting done. Several ideas emerged, including cleaning up three break rooms. Jim accepted the Supporter of the Year award on behalf of

Over 350 were in attendance and they not only heard the story of and Margaret’s success, but also were introduced to Pat Logsdon, who works at the Pinehurst Safeway store cleaning out the meat department at night. Pat worked for 20 years in AtWork!’s landscaping division, developing valuable skills that he is putting to use at Safeway. His ambition is to move from the back to the front of the store, where he’ll have a chance for more contact with customers, and perhaps serve as a Courtesy Clerk.

AtWork! is proud to honor Dunn Lumber as our Supporter of the Year

Dunn Lumber views its employees as if they are an extended part of its family and treats them as such. Mike Dunn, Company President, said, “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

The “Great Hires” video showcases the benefit of hiring individuals with significant disabilities. This employer-to-employer 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 it makes good business sense to hire individuals with significant disabilities.

“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.

Click here to contact AtWork! about hiring a person with disabilities.