Amy and Max are both graduates of Living Resources’ College Experience Program. Amy, who graduated in 2015, had a steady job working with children in an After School Program until COVID appeared on the scene in early 2020. Her unexpected furlough empowered her to try something completely new. Max, who graduated College Experience as an enhanced senior last year and is still receiving support from the program, is new to the supported employment scene.

Both feel fortunate to be working at Sherman Specialties, a warehouse that prints messages on 3-Dimensional objects that are used as party favors and other “swag.” Supported by Living Resources job coaches, they work to fulfill orders by picking the needed boxes off shelves, opening them and removing items for printing. The customized items are then returned to them to be packed for shipping. Amy and Max both love the repetitive nature of their tasks. Amy, who has 22q Deletion Syndrome says that since she started this work, she has noticed a tremendous improvement in her fine motor skills both at work and at home.

Amy and Max fit in beautifully to Sherman’s Specialties’ upbeat culture. They are not seen as individuals with disabilities, but equal parts of the team. Initially, they were assigned to work together to support each other in their employment journey. This extra level of reassurance wasn’t needed for long. Within a short time, they were so comfortable in their working environment that they branched out into separate responsibilities and shifts. Max said, “I like how friendly it is there. It doesn’t really feel like a job, just something I truly enjoy.  Amy has developed a taste for the staff’s sense of humor. “Sometimes it takes me a little bit to realize they are joking, but then I get it,” she laughed.

Most importantly, Amy and Max are essential to the success of the company. Amy said her team recently moved 450 pieces in one day, earning the gratitude of her coworkers. Afterward, she was proud of her contributions said, “I was so tired, in a good way, you know?”

The collaboration between Living Resources and Sherman’s Specialties is a natural fit that works beautifully for all involved, and yet it almost didn’t come to fruition. Our supported individuals typically access CDTA buses for transportation, but Sherman Specialties is not on a bus line. This was not a problem since helping everyone out is a deeply ingrained part of their culture. Those at Sherman’s Specialties collaborated with our Supportive Employment team to create a plan: our individuals utilize the bus system to get to the Living Resources main office. They are then met by a Sherman Specialties employee who picks them up in the morning and drops them back off at the end of their shift. This creative problem solving is most appreciated by Amy, Max, and their families.