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A Look Inside the Workplace for Three Individuals in Braided Services Program

By Rae van Seenus on Aug 20, 2019 at 07:34 PM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog

Internship Program for Workers with Disabilities in Santa Barbara County

Rosie Salazar, Employment Specialist for UCP WORK, Inc., North County, specializes in placing individuals with developmental disabilities in internships and jobs throughout Santa Maria. The individuals she places have “graduated” from UCP WORK, Inc’s Braided Services Program, a skills training service that is offered to participants that choose employment opportunities within the community.  Through Braided Services, participants go through an employment assessment process, take courses in specific skills, and learn what it takes to be a good employee, such as positive behavior, personal hygiene, customer service, and interpersonal skills.  The training is conducted within a classroom setting prior to being placed out on the job, although many of the participants find that volunteering at the business first, gives them the best tools and the potential for permanent hire. Rosie works closely with each person, especially giving tips on how to have the best attitude in the workplace. Her employment placement process is specialized in meeting the needs of the individual and the employer, so that both feel supported and continue to have a mutually beneficial work relationship. 

A Look Inside the Workplace for Three People Placed
Through UCP WORK, Inc.’s Braided Services Program

The Braided Services Program has been available at UCP WORK, Inc. for a little over one year, yet Rosie has already placed three people into job opportunities in the Santa Maria area. Carlos Ibarra, has worked as a paid intern at Al-Pho Vietamese restaurant for more than 6 months, where he started with bussing tables.  Due to his high quality of training and strong work ethic, the restaurant's owners have now moved him into learning new skills in the kitchen, such as peeling potatoes, slicing meats, and other food prep.  Carlos has learned so much while on the job at Al-Pho restaurant, that he says his dream job would be to open his own “el lunchero” (food truck) with the support of his family. 

A Look Inside the Workplace for Three People Placed
Through UCP WORK, Inc.’s Braided Services Program

Alvie Hernandez is employed at Spencer’s grocery store, working 16-18 hours per week in maintenance, stocking, retrieving carts, and bailing boxes.  His employer reports that Alvie fits right in with the other employees, is always in a good mood, and has now started prepping for the store’s inventory. Alvie is always respectful, sociable, and continues to grow on the job at Spencer’s!

A Look Inside the Workplace for Three People Placed
Through UCP WORK, Inc.’s Braided Services Program

Kimberly Belknap, has moved up from her role as a volunteer to intern at the Santa Maria Humane Society.  Initially, the organization asked for only limited support from volunteers, but due to UCP WORK, Inc’s highly effective coaching and supports by Rosie Salazar, the Humane Society opened their doors to offering Kim a paid internship position. Kim regularly cleans the cages and plays with the kittens, and now has a Job Coach that goes with her to work two times per week.  Rosie reports that she has seen a huge improvement in Kim’s confidence on the job, by asking her employer what new tasks to do and by advocating for herself.

About Braided Services
First of its kind in Santa Barbara County, the Braided Services Program of UCP WORK Inc., offers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a fully integrated employment skills training service that puts it on the cutting edge, resulting in an upward shift in employment for people with disabilities. Participants are offered the unique opportunity to go through an employment assessment process, take specific courses, and learn job skills within a classroom
 and community setting.  The courses offered are person-centered, which UCP WORK Inc. describes as a focus on the individuals strengths and aspirations, and less on one’s disability. As its primary goal, the Braided Services Program focuses on building partnerships with local businesses to provide paid internships and foster inclusive employment practices to its participating students. 

For more information about the Braided Services Program at UCP WORK, Inc., contact Kevin Smith, Director of Program Services at [email protected] or call 805-566-9000.