Having a job represents much more than earning a salary. Employment, including the kind of work one performs, influences one’s identity, sense of belonging, and place in the world. We recently sat down with Kimberly Clark, JFCS’ Supported Employment Specialist to discuss one of her all-star employers Kroger. “Kroger is wonderful to work with. They are open to working with every person I bring to them no matter what my client’s challenge has been in the past.” According to the Kroger website diversity and inclusion is part of the fabric of their workplace. “Diversity is part of our recipe for success. We think diversity is one of our strengths.”
JFCS’ Supported Employment program began over two years ago with career counselor Andrea Brown. It is a personal passion point for her, “I realized, as my sister went through supported employment, that there was still a great need for a service provider who was genuinely concerned with the well-being of their consumers and I knew JFCS could be such a provider.”
Since joining JFCS in February, Kimberly has been able to help three clients find meaningful employment. “The process takes time to both work with the client to understand their needs as well as to create relationships with employers like Kroger. It could take 2-3 months to get through the initial paperwork and get to know the clients, but we have been able to make a lot of progress with employers, so we are seeing more people being hired.” JFCS is currently working with eight supported employment clients.
“Kroger has a great training program as part of their on boarding process which helps my clients reach their full potential. Recently our clients have been getting jobs not only as courtesy clerks but also with the new ClickList service. I wish there were more employers like Kroger; there is such a great need in our community.”