Coach Mike Quinn is Northwest Center VP of Business Development
Northwest Center is proud to announce that the Issaquah Spirit, a Special Olympics soccer team coached by Northwest Center VP of Business Development Mike Quinn, has been selected to represent Washington State at the summer 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, July 1-6, 2018 in Seattle.
Anthony and his mom Sara
Anthony looks at the world a little differently—and often beautifully.
“When Anthony goes up a hill, he says it’s heavy because it makes his body feel heavy,” says his mom Sara. “What a unique way to describe that feeling.”
Still, Sara and her husband Jason struggled to find a preschool that would nurture Anthony’s potential the same as any other child.
By Richard Solomon, Lead Employment Support Coordinator
Conlan holds up a finger and furrows his brow, focused on the screen in front of him. He’s working as a Problem Solver at Amazon’s Prime Now warehouse (UWA1) in Kirkland, a job he found through Northwest Center Employment Services. The warehouse is a hub for Pacific Northwest fulfillment, with a torrent of inventory that gives him plenty to do.
The program that Northwest Center Early Intervention has pioneered in collaboration with the University of Washington Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (UW NICU) is not only making a huge impact on families whose babies are beginning life in the UW NICU; it’s also making one statewide.
Our 2017 Golden Hearts Luncheon raised money for a more inclusive working world. Host Dennis Bounds, former King 5 news anchor, kept things lively as he shared success stories like that of Devin, who found his career through Northwest Center School-to-Work. Devin’s story was captured on video and shared at the event by featured speaker Chris Ulmer of Special Books by Special Kids, whose popular videos of conversations with children and adults with disabilities were an event highlight.
As I reflect on the past year at Northwest Center, I have an overwhelming appreciation, a great sense of pride, and unbridled excitement.
I appreciate the incredible Northwest Center staff and their longstanding dedication to inclusion and making our world a better place through service to our clients and customers and through the miracles they achieve every day. And I appreciate every Northwest Center supporter who increases our impact by giving their time and money.
By Gene Boes, President & CEO, Northwest Center
Value Village & Northwest Center
Few regions have seen as much change in recent years as the Pacific Northwest. A technology-driven boom has propelled growth in the Puget Sound region, with Seattle earning the status of fastest-growing city and undisputed construction crane capital in the nation.
Stephan knows a thing or two about dancing in the rain. An avid hip-hop dancer, Stephan enjoys every day as a Donations Station Attendant for The Big Blue Truck™, no matter if there are sunny skies or some of our Pacific Northwest mist.
While Stephan is a happy, vital member of The Big Blue Truck™ team, it took some trial and error to find the job where he could excel. A member of the School-to-Work (S2W) program, Stephan was actively preparing himself for employment opportunities before he graduated from high school. It took some job coaching and training, but when Stephan saw the people in the Big Blue Truck™ he knew he wanted to join in.
Dear Northwest Center Community:
I am honored to be the new CEO of Northwest Center, to lead and serve a world class team in our mission “to promote the growth, development, and independence of people with disabilities through programs of education, rehabilitation, and work opportunity.”
Each of us has talents, gifts and potential, and deserves the opportunity to engage and contribute. When society values diverse perspectives, honors all abilities and allows everyone the opportunity to contribute, that society is working at its best and will help the world achieve its collective potential. I am reminded daily of the importance of inclusion through my eyes as a parent. My daughter, Tori, is 24 years old, loves horseback riding, listening to music, shopping, and going out to restaurants…and has Autism. Tori has helped mold me into the person I am today and contributes to my success in immeasurable ways. But her opportunities to engage in our community are limited.
At Northwest Center, inclusion is at our core and we envision a fulfilling future for everyone. Our founding parents insisted that everyone deserves the opportunity to realize their fullest potential and we continue to honor their philosophy today. Now in our 52nd year, Northwest Center provides early intervention and inclusive learning for children, and employment services for individuals with disabilities. We employ people of all abilities in our Social Enterprise, with over 40% of the 950 people on our payroll self-identifying with a disability.
I am humbled to be part of an organization that refuses to allow anyone to be overlooked, mislabeled, marginalized, or denied the opportunity to engage and contribute.
Thank you for everything you do to support Northwest Center. Your partnership is what makes this possible.
Onward and Upward,
What is something special about you?
Though sometimes difficult to answer, Chris Ulmer asks this question to nearly everyone he interviews. Ulmer, a special education teacher turned an internationally renowned speaker, travels the globe interviewing people with disabilities. His goal is to not tell their stories, but to give them the opportunity to tell their story themselves.
When a new shift begins, associates clock in and head to “Stand Up,” an area of the warehouse where managers go over daily announcements and celebrate top performers in front of their coworkers. For Mihret, who has worked for just over six months, Stand Up became a goal from day one.
Mihret, born in Ethiopia, is deaf yet does not know American or Universal Sign Language. English is her second language and this makes communication and connection difficult for her. Yet in June 2017, Mihret came into work and saw her name, written in big green letters. Mihret was awarded top performer. Two days later, Mihret achieved her goal yet again. In fact, that day, three out of the four top performer awards were given to associates placed by Northwest Center, all with diagnosed disabilities.
Northwest Center is the recipient of Value Village’s 50 Year Partnership Award. Since 1967, we have had a long-term partnership with Value Village to collect clothing and household donations with our iconic Big Blue Trucks and blue donation bins. Value Village buys that merchandise to sell in its stores, and the revenue Northwest Center receives funds education and employment programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities in WA State.
Written by: Amy & Connor Doran
Edited by: Jennifer Owen
It started as a hobby. Pulling a string, defying gravity with every twist and turn of his body, Connor Doran knows how to fly a kite. He enjoyed gliding his kite through the crisp Washington air, but it wasn’t until 2009 that he thought to share his talents with the rest of the country.
By: Tracee Christie
Writers: Jennifer Owen
Tracee, Senior Area Manager at Integrated Facility Services (IFS), has been with Northwest Center for 15 years and knows what it takes to succeed. From working long hours to personally inspecting with her teams the 1.6 million square feet of property she manages; Tracee knows that hard work and proper management leads to successful teams.
Written by: Wendy Heddrick & Jackie Fountain
Edited by: Jennifer Owen
Innovation blossoms in environments that embrace diversity. At Argus, the female-run janitorial service defies the traditional insular, male dominated profession with a workforce largely consisting of women, minorities, and people of all abilities. We sat down with General Manager Jackie and Senior Manager Wendy to learn about their model of inclusive employment and all the strides Argus is making in the Pacific Northwest.
Northwest Center and Value Village Celebrate 50 years in 2017
By Denise Small
Senior Director, Big Blue Truck
In 1967, just two years after our founding, Northwest Center entered into a partnership with Value Village. We collect clothing and household donations with The Big Blue Truck™ and The Blue Bin. Value Village buys that merchandise to sell in its stores, and the revenue funds our education and employment programs. The innovative “social business” model was decades ahead of its time. Today, the partnership is stronger than ever, collecting state wide.
Northwest Center’s business relationship with Value Village has been the foundation of our entire philosophy of change, which is to use business to create social good. Now the world is embracing the business value of diversity at unprecedented scale, thanks in part to this breakthrough that started 50 years ago right here in Seattle.
April means Autism Awareness month! Be sure to explore the sensory sensitive events taking place throughout Seattle:
We know that workplaces benefit the more diverse they become, but the number of unemployed people with disabilities highlights how much change is yet to come. If you or your organization are interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, consider the following advice and tips to find the right employee.
On February 7th, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. This process – from President Trump announcing DeVos as a candidate to her confirmation – has been one of the most contested cabinet positions in modern history. In an unprecedented vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education despite widespread concerns about her comments on special education.
With a full agenda of developments and exciting news, there’s a lot to be excited about at Northwest Center in this upcoming year. One thing we’re especially pleased to share with you all is the launch of our advocacy branch; a new sector of Northwest Center aiming to connect our clients with even more resources both locally and nationally, while also supplying useful, nonpartisan information to help families and individuals make the best choices for themselves.
Northwest Center Partners with Tech Neighbor to Establish National Model of Inclusion
By Sarah Rothman
Director, Project Inclusion
Being located in one of the quickest-growing tech centers in the world, Northwest Center cherishes the opportunity to partner with our forward-thinking neighbors. Our employment team is proud to be working on a sustainable, long-term relationship with one of the largest tech companies in Seattle. Building off of a pilot program in 2015, the long-term objective of the partnership with Northwest Center is to attract and retain a part-time driven and diverse workforce. By developing an inclusive, broad staffing network, we are placing people with disabilities who are looking for part-time opportunities in independent, competitive employment.
Expanding Inclusive Work Environments Across County Lines
By Taryn Farley
Manager, Employment Services
2016 was a year of growth throughout all Northwest Center departments. Taryn Farley and Alex Diseth, the Community Employment Services Managers, assumed full leadership of the job development team in August with goals geared towards long-term growth. Both managers have worked at Northwest Center for nearly five years and have experience in the disability field beyond their tenure at Northwest Center. Taryn and Alex have their eyes set on staff retention through quality training aimed towards getting more people into jobs!
With new leadership and a growing team, we are poised to increase our existing services in King County and are now certified to expand our services statewide. Our first order of business is to begin expansion into the adjacent counties of Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap. Expansion efforts have already begun in Snohomish County, with relationships being built out of the Lynnwood Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Office.
Celebrating a Year of Inclusive Work
By Lindsay MacCary
Looking back on 2016, the School-to-Work team is proud to reflect upon a successful year! In 2016 our team of four employment consultants served 22 students from schools spanning King County, all the while diligently collaborating with students, teachers, families and other members of support networks on the journey to best understand students’ strengths, interests and support needs.
Northwest Center Kids in 2016
By Laura Kneedler
Vice President, Northwest Center Kids
This time of year is our favorite – not only can we share our appreciation with our loyal audience, we get to fill you in on the exciting progress we made this past year!
We’re so grateful to be a part of all families involved with Northwest Center Kids, and through our Early Intervention and Early Learning programs we were able to serve nearly 600 children and families in 2016.
By Ty Taylor
President and CEO, Interim
Happy New Year! As Northwest Center closed out 2016 and as 2017 begins, it seems like a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished, the journey we have taken, and the plans we have for an exciting, bright future ahead.
I would like to start by telling you how much I appreciate each customer, client and employee of Northwest Center and that I recognize we would not be where we are today without the contributions made by each of you. Thank you.
Last year was a year of growth, change and transition. With the help of our stellar employees, we are making great strides in achieving our goal to transform our service offerings and increase our reach in the community. Northwest Center values our 50 years of relationships with customers, and are excited and humbled to continue advancing our standard of excellence to unreached customers.
I know that because of the efforts of a phenomenal team we thrived in 2016. We want 2017 to be even more successful for the company and for you. It is an incredible feeling to know that when I go out to clients – both existing and potential, there is no way I can oversell the competency and commitment of our team to maintaining the mission of Northwest Center.
My thanks to everyone for your contributions in 2016. I hope you will look to 2017 as brightly as we do.
Thank you for all you do for Northwest Center.
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