Job coaches are making a difference at Rancho Cucamonga-based Vocational Improvement Program, Inc.–known simply as VIP–the non-profit organization that helps to place workers with disabilities in available jobs with a wide variety of businesses in Southern California.
If you would like to contact this organization, Click Here.
A job coach has many responsibilities, but those responsibilities don’t stop at the usual expected functions like training, supervision, and mentoring. The job coaches at VIP are overseeing the development of people who are overcoming disabilities to fit in while achieving high levels of performance in their jobs. Beth Clark, a job coach and team lead supervisor, who oversees clients working for Riverside Community Hospital and TJ Maxx, to name a few employers, has watched her clients excel. “I’ve seen them start their jobs, and every single client that I have right now has been promoted, and they do as well, if not better, than any other associate or co-worker,” Clark said. “It enhances their life that they go and feel that they’re able to make some money, to be
a part of a team, and get the job done. I’ve seen them all progress.”
Clark’s colleague, Jorge Cisneros, is also a job coach. He oversees nine clients working for many different businesses including Sears, Marshall’s and Taco Bell. His responsibilities vary depending on both the needs of his clients and the businesses that employ them. “I do my observations (of the clients), and then help out with any training in the process. Or, in case the employer has any concerns or just wants to talk about what’s going on with the client, they’ll notify me, and then I’ll address it with the client. The client will also come to me if he or she has any concerns so we can address those as well.
One of the most important responsibilities of the job coach is serving as liaison between VIP, the employer and the clients. Being in the middle of this relationship triangle can help to strengthen business ties as well as the job performance of the individual workers.
“Some of our clients are kind of shy to approach the employer. Sometimes they’ll ask me if I can speak for them.” Cisneros continued, “So I think it’s a good thing for me to be in the middle so I can get to know the employers a little better and understand what the companies are looking for.”
One of the rewards of being a job coach is being able to see the positive changes that take place on the job site. Those positive changes include the development
These clients and their co-workers receive onging assistance and training from VIP job coaches.
and achievements of the clients through improved performance and job promotions, for example, as well as the satisfaction of the employers. “A lot of employers are shocked when they find out that the clients can match and outperform some of their regular workers,” according to VIP job coach, Rodney Piper. “It has opened up some doors for other individuals to have the opportunity to work.
If there is anything that each of the job coaches shares, it is the enthusiasm for
helping others–their clients, the employers and each other. When asked what she would say to those businesses who might be considering hiring people with disabilities to fill their vacant positions, VIP job coach Nellie Bellanos said, “Give us a chance, and we’ll give a hundred percent and beyond.