Christine Riley on the Job

Ernest with Job Coach Christine Riley
Ernest on the job
Ernest and Christine both on the job
Ernest with Job Coach Christine Riley
Ernest on the job
Ernest and Christine both on the job

In 2005, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Christine Riley fled New Orleans. She had two young daughters and a 3-month-old son with cystic fibrosis in tow when she joined her best friend in Atlanta. Christine decided this was the place to settle with her family, and she now serves as Job Coach in Frazer Center’s Supported Employment Program for adults with disabilities.

She has worked as a Direct Support Professional in both a group home setting and a day program, but she’s particularly drawn to job coaching, especially as she looks toward her own son’s future and the opportunities available for him. Through the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Christine earned her DD Customized Employment Personnel Certification, and she is passionate about assisting individuals with disabilities in “finding the work of their dreams.”

As part of our Supported Employment Program, Christine gets to know the individuals who are interested in finding employment. She becomes familiar with their desires, strengths, and abilities, then helps the individual search for a perfect job match. That process includes nurturing relationships with business owners who may or may not have ever considered hiring people with disabilities.

Christine advocates for the job-seeker and aims to give business owners a new perspective on the possibilities of strengthening business by diversifying their workforce. Once a job match has been made, Christine provides support for the employee throughout the training process and beyond, ensuring that he or she is fulfilling their assigned duties. She helps set up the employee’s transportation routine, and she provides self-advocacy training for the employee and support for the employer and fellow staff as needed. If issues arise, she is on call to help find solutions. Once the employee feels confident in his or her position, Christine visits the workplace on a regular basis, with the goal being two to four visits a month.

Ernest is one of our Adult Program participants who had long been dreaming of employment. Christine knew the owner of several Family Dollar stores, but he had never considered hiring anyone with a disability. After talking with Christine, he decided that Ernest might fit the bill for a position at one of his stores. Ernest’s supervisor has been so happy with him that the owner is now looking to hire more people with disabilities at other store locations.

Ernest is proud to be employed. Yes, the paycheck is nice, but he particularly loves just doing a good job. He is dependable and enjoys his daily work routine, and with Christine’s help, he is setting goals for himself to expand his job responsibilities.

Meanwhile, Christine carries on with her responsibility of finding win-win employment situations for others. Most people with a disability, if given a choice, will choose employment. And yet only about one-third of people with disabilities are employed. If you know or are a business owner interested in learning more about hiring people with disabilities, we'd love to discuss how Supported Employment WORKS! Contact info@frazercenter.org to get the conversation started.

RELATED READING:
What I’ve Learned By Hiring More Employees With Disabilities (FastCompany.com)