On October 19th, 2019, Kim Gatewood, self-advocate and administrative assistant, was featured on social media by national APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First), sharing her competitive, integrated employment story.
Please briefly describe your current job.
I am the administrative assistant for the staff of my state’s council on developmental disabilities. I work 20 hours a week doing things like answering and transferring telephone calls, working on my computer answering emails and doing data entry into logs and reports, filing, scanning documents, and sending out publications when people ask for them. I also do activities like setting up a table with information about the council at community events and talking to people who come by. And four times a year I help get ready for council meetings.
What barriers have you experienced in finding a job in the community?
The main thing that was keeping me from a job in the community was not having a supported living worker assigned to me at my service provider. I needed the support and a good job coach.
What has been most helpful for you in finding and keeping a job in the community?
My job coach taught me how to use the computer and answer the phones. They also talked to me about how to talk in the office and how to best say things to others.
What do you like most about working independently in the community?
I like that I can take care of myself and my family. I like having my own money so I can make my own plans and I can go places that I want to go to, when I want to go.
Briefly tell us why you believe that increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve competitive, integrated employment (working independently in the community and earning the same wage as your coworkers) is so important?
It is important because making their own money helps them be independent. They can be active in their town. They can take care of themselves and their family. I think having supported employment staff or job coaches is something that is needed to help them keep a job and continue working.
APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) is the national voice of the Employment First movement. APSE believes in real jobs for real pay for all people with disabilities: Employment First. To learn more, visit https://apse.org/
Kim’s APSE Story: