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home : news : business   May 29, 2016

10/21/2013 7:40:00 AM
Good help not so hard to find


Tammie King of Peru (left) looks over a job application with the help of Brenda Justi from Horizon Industries. King is among those looking for jobs through Horizon’s employment exchange, which helps disabled workers complete applications, find jobs and get onsite job coaching as they settle in. October is “Disability Employment Awareness Month” and Horizon House is hoping that more local employers will roll the dice on workers with evident limitations but who nonetheless possess diligent work habits and a laser focus on the task at hand.NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
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Tammie King of Peru (left) looks over a job application with the help of Brenda Justi from Horizon Industries. King is among those looking for jobs through Horizon’s employment exchange, which helps disabled workers complete applications, find jobs and get onsite job coaching as they settle in. October is “Disability Employment Awareness Month” and Horizon House is hoping that more local employers will roll the dice on workers with evident limitations but who nonetheless possess diligent work habits and a laser focus on the task at hand.

NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



You think you’ve had a hard time finding a good job? Tammie King is in a tougher spot than most.
King, 41, of Peru has a learning disability and has been looking for steady work for two years. King worked in the fast-food business and was reliable enough to put in 15 years at Hardee’s restaurants until stores in Mendota and La Salle both closed. She’s since picked up work as a temp, but nothing steady enough to consistently meet her financial obligations.
“It’s frustrating because I have bills to pay, too, and my car is almost 13 years old,” King said during a meeting at Horizon Industries, where staff helps people with disabilities find jobs and fill out applications.
King said she’ll take just about anything that comes along, but the odds against her are higher than most. The Great Recession was bad enough for most Americans; but for people with disabilities, hard times have translated into 70 percent unemployment.
Horizon House has had somewhat better success at finding work for some disabled clients — Hy-Vee and Marshall’s have hired disabled workers and been pleased with the results — but even Horizon House claims an unemployment rate of about 60 percent.
Brenda Justi, employment services coordinator at Horizon House, counts about a dozen disabled clients who’ve successfully found work in the Illinois Valley through Horizon House’s Employment Exchange.
Yet she estimates there are another 15 in the “development phase” waiting for employers like Hy-Vee and Marshall’s to take a chance on someone with a physical or cognitive limitation.
October is “Disability Employment Awareness Month” and Horizon House is hoping that more local employers will roll the dice on workers with evident limitations but who nonetheless possess diligent work habits and a laser focus on the task at hand.
“We recently had a person who retired from Starved Rock Lodge as a housekeeper after 20 years,” Justi said.
Other success stories abound. The Illinois Valley YMCA is among the local employers to benefit from the employment exchange.
“Our experience has been fantastic,” said Jeannette Collier, the YMCA’s janitorial manager. “We have an employee in our custodial department going on five years and we have anther man who’s been with us four months, and they’re both doing fantastic.
“I’m actually looking to hire one more person through Horizon House and I’m very excited about that.”
Collier said one reason the employment exchange works is Horizon House dispatches “job coaches” to job sites to assist clients if the need arises. Horizon House not only provides a matchmaking service but also extends outreach services to help the employee adapt to new environs and easing the training and management burdens of the employer.
“The support is just amazing over there,” Collier said.
The program has been no less successful in giving clients steady income and a sense of pride.
Marshall’s brought in Julie Giammaresse as a temp during the Christmas rush and performed well. Managers at the Peru Mall location were so pleased they kept Julie on after Christmas and put her to work permanently in the stock room.
“She loves her job and is a very good employee,” said Carol Fesco, director of development for Horizon House.
“Our staff work with job seekers and potential employers to find a good job match,” Fesco said. “They provide job support when needed to ensure both the employee and employer are pleased with the situation. We have been providing community employment services for many years. It is an aspect of Horizon House that many people may not know about.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com












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