A Simple Connection Leads to Meaningful Employment

By Lauren Peyton

“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown

When we learned about Mosaic’s new core values, they described Connection as community, partnership and network.

I immediately thought of Lisa and the connections that have changed her life in the last year. When I met Lisa, it took me months to earn her friendship.

After a while, I learned she wanted a job in the community. For some reason or another, it just hadn’t happened.

Thanks to a simple connection on LinkedIn, we were able to change that.

Lisa was one of three people Mosaic supports in Kansas City who was involved in a three-week paid internship program designed by occupational therapy interns at the University of Kansas and the Kansas area Nebraska Furniture Mart.

This program was perfect for helping Lisa and others connect with an employer, develop friendships and learn new skills.

It allowed her to try three different areas of the store and work with Nebraska Furniture Mart’s human resources team to decide where she worked best within the store.

We even received an in-depth tour of the store and their warehouse before the start of their internships. When we went on the tour and Lisa saw the shipping and receiving area, her eyes lit up. She went right up to her future coworker, Cindy, and asked, “How much do you get paid and when do you take lunch?”

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

After a few weeks of work, Cindy came to visit Lisa at our agency. My first thought when I saw her was, “Oh no! Is Lisa okay?”

But Cindy had just come to take Lisa out to dinner. That is the epitome of connection.

Lisa now has more natural supports in her community, on her terms.

Lisa and Cindy spoke at our recent fundraising event, encouraging others to help Mosaic make connections like theirs possible.

Lisa’s story isn’t uncommon among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Nationwide, more than 60% of people with IDD who can and want to work are unemployed or underemployed.

One of the barriers to employment for people with disabilities is few connections to our communities outside of parents and service providers. It’s hard to find work if you don’t know who to connect with for jobs.

Our connection with Nebraska Furniture Mart continues to grow. Volunteers have helped us build garden beds. They’re helping us fulfill a wish list of needs to enhance our building and programming.

I hope you’ll join us in learning more about how bold partnerships like ours with Lisa and Nebraska Furniture Mart can create meaningful and lasting connections for everyone involved.

Lauren Peyton is the community relations manager at Mosaic in Northeast Kansas. If you’re interested in finding great employees like Lisa, contact us.

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