Easter Seals Arc, Lutheran Hospital Partnership Creates Training Program
Fort Wayne, Ind. — Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana and Lutheran Hospital have collaborated to create the Employment Readiness Academy, a mentorship program for people with disabilities to gain training and experience working in multiple areas of the facility.
The Employment Readiness Academy began in November, and the first six participants will graduate in late March. The next group will start the program in mid-April.
Academy participants spend classroom time learning general workplace skills taught by an Easter Seals Arc instructor. However, the larger portion of each day is spent working in the hospital. During the course of the program, they will complete six-week rotations in various areas at Lutheran—such as the warehouse, environmental services, nutritional services, or the gift shop—to see where their interests and skills fit best. The Academy participants also have learned important food safety concepts through instruction provided by Ivy Tech Corporate College, and all six have passed the Professional Food Handler certification exam.
“We are seeing more and more clients express a desire to work in the community, and this program helps them build a resume of skills and experience,” said Donna Elbrecht, Easter Seals Arc CEO/President. “But the confidence they gain from contributing to the daily operations of the hospital may be even more important. Everyone at Lutheran, from the top leadership to the staff working alongside our clients, has been tremendously supportive of these individuals.”
Valerie McKain, lead Employment Academy specialist, said the experience has been extremely valuable for clients and goes beyond the specific job skills they learn. “A big thing is that they are learning to work independently, but they are also learning teamwork.”
For Lutheran Health Network, the Employment Readiness Academy helps expand the organization’s pool of qualified job applicants.
“This has been a great program for Lutheran,” said Scott Weiskittel, Lutheran Hospital COO and Easter Seals Arc board member. “Collaborations like this are important for the community because, among other things, they
help bring out the best in individuals whose talents are often underutilized.”
While Lutheran Hospital is an ideal location for the program due to the variety of jobs available, Easter Seals Arc is eager to establish additional Academies at other businesses in the Fort Wayne area.
“We can work with business leaders to see what their workforce needs are and how our clients can fit those needs, then adapt the details of the Employment Readiness Academy to the specific business environment,” Elbrecht explained.
Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana provides exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. We provide a wide range of services and programs that nurture independence based on each individual’s goals and choices while providing advocacy and promoting community inclusion.
Janet Schutte, Director of Communications and Marketing
260-456-4534 ext. 344