Isaac had just moved to Waterloo, IA, and wanted to utilize his associate degree in architectural technology. He connected with Kim Kalkhoff of Inclusion Connection through the Ticket to Work program. Inclusion Connection, a Member of the American Dream Employment Network (ADEN), prides itself on advocating for both employees and employers to ensure opportunities that match employer needs in addition to the skills and interests of the Ticket Holder. Through the Ticket to Work program, Isaac received support in a job change, benefits advisement and, ultimately, financial independence.
After Ticket assignment, Isaac very quickly found a job with a construction firm where he could use his skills. However, shortly after beginning his new job, Isaac began experiencing unmanageable anxiety. He also struggled with a lack of direction from his employer and soon came to realize this was not the company for him. That’s when Inclusion Connection stepped in to find a better job fit for Isaac. Kim supported Isaac in resigning from his position so that he could find a job better suited to him with a new approach: they needed to find an employer who would work with Isaac and be willing to provide him with more direction.
Kim and Isaac made connections with local architecture firms, and, in January 2019, Isaac landed a job with a firm that specializes in designing financial institutions. Finding the right environment, a supportive employer and having a supportive service provider waiting in the wings was key to his success.
One of the benefits of the Ticket to Work program is the ability for a Ticket Holder to stay connected to their Employment Network (EN) even after someone is gainfully employed. This allowed Kim to work with Isaac and his employer for several years to ensure long-term employment support. Kim worked with Isaac’s supervisor to identify a calm and quiet environment where Isaac could thrive.
Finding and keeping a job is only one of the many obstacles that beneficiaries face. As a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary, Isaac was concerned about losing his health insurance. Through benefits planning, he learned that he was able to work and still afford his expensive medications. Isaac met regularly with his benefits planner and gained in-depth knowledge on how work would reduce his reliance on his Social Security benefits.
The long-term support provided by Kim proved essential during the Covid-19 pandemic when Isaac was laid off for three months. Kim was there for Isaac throughout this time and even helped arrange further accommodations that let Isaac work from home until he felt comfortable enough to return to the office.
Now, three years after Isaac became employed, Kim says, “I have observed his anxiety levels are much less and he has a clear understanding of his benefits. Isaac’s employer gives yearly evaluations and Isaac receives yearly raises that help him reach his goals. He is self-sufficient and financially stable.” Isaac adds, “All I can really say is I’m happy to be independent.”
Inclusion Connection has been a Member of the American Dream Employment Network since 2016 and provides Ticket to Work services to beneficiaries living in Iowa. Kim Kalkhoff is the Point of Contact for Inclusion Connection Ticket to Work services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-215-8423. Visit Inclusion Connection’s website at InclusionConnectionOrg.Weebly.com.