Submitted by Sydney Butzen, Employment Support Specialist
I met Codie in March of 2022. Codie had been working with Black Hills Works’ Employment Support Services department to find a job for quite a while before I joined BHW, but nothing seemed to stick. I visited him at his apartment to talk about his employment interests. We discussed his last two jobs where he only worked for a few days or a few weeks, finding them too overwhelming for him. While I talked to Codie, I observed that his body language was very closed and almost sad. Codie wanted to work and make money, socialize and form relationships, but he was also worried about work being chaotic and coworkers or supervisors not understanding him and being unkind. I reassured Codie and we talked about our mutual love of video games and music.
It was easy to see Codie felt defeated and honestly, so was I for a few days after our meeting. He had tried so many different avenues in community employment but nothing seemed to work or fit him just right. What could we try differently to find him what he needed?
In talking with Michelle Kline, Director of Custodial Services, an opportunity presented itself for a group-supported site with the small janitorial crew for Rapid City Parks. Codie was excited to try it. This position was with the team that cleans public parks restrooms in our community. After a short situational interview with the supervisor, Codie decided this was the job he wanted and accepted the job offer. Though there were a few hiccups with getting started, Codie began working in mid-June.
Now, just a couple of months later, Codie really enjoys working and having money to spend, but even more than that he seems content and happy. Now, when you talk to Codie, he makes eye contact and easily engages in conversation with peers and staff. He is more confident and shows interest in activities more. He is close to his team lead, Jacki, and talks about how much he likes work, “even when it’s kinda gross.” Codie says, “I feel like my life has a purpose now.” We are all so proud of Codie for working so hard and growing so much over the last few months!