WineBev Creating Opportunity to “Work Without Limits”

The Napa Valley is known for gorgeous weather and of course for wine. UCP’s affiliate in the Napa Valley area, UCP of the North Bay, works to bring together the wine industry and individuals with disabilities. WineBev Services began in 2007 and is helping to acknowledge the need for labor in the region, while opening doors for more accessible and competitive employment for people with disabilities. “It was a natural fit given the area,” says Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

WineBev works with around 15 to 20 wineries in the area at any given time during the season. They currently employ 115 individuals with disabilities, working in all areas – from packing to fulfillment. Potential employees are referred to WineBev from the local regional center in Napa, which helps to pair individuals with providers in the community. Candidates go through a job skills training course before finding the area that best suits their skills. WineBev provides both community-based and supportive employment. They also work with the the hospitality industry in the area, giving greater flexibility to area employers and finding roles that best suit each individual employee’s strengths.

 

WineBev estimates that nearly 200 individuals have come through the program, with several finding employment on their own after their time there. At UCP of the North Bay, living a “life without limits” plays a role in every aspect of life – both work and play. At WineBev, “Work Without Limits” is more than just a tagline – it’s a purpose and flows through every facet of WineBev, from monitoring to packing, to creating employment opportunity for all.

 

Special thanks to Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

For more information on WineBev, please visit www.winebev.com.

 

To find out more about UCP of the North Bay and their programs, visit their website at http://ucpnb.org/.

 

A Sixteen-Year Success Story

In the mid-90s, United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and Southwest Washington changed the way it served people with disabilities seeking employment. The old model – offering “sheltered” employment in a workshop setting run by UCP – gave way to a new emphasis on finding opportunities for individuals to work at businesses in their communities. Jeff Corwin

In 1998, Jeff Corwin worked with a UCP Employment Specialist to land a job at Erickson’s Automotive in Lake Oswego. He started off coming into the shop three days a week to help owner Bill Erickson clean up tools and move garbage and recyclable metals to their proper containers.

16 years later, Jeff is as loyal to Erickson’s as ever. In addition to his commitment to his employer, Jeff has earned his Master Recycler certification and now volunteers his spare time to help a nonprofit organization with its recycling. Bill Erickson’s life and business have been impacted for the better as well. Erickson said that working with Jeff was a “blessing in disguise.”

Although UCP’s Employment Specialists established systems and written instructions to help Jeff be successful, he still needed verbal instructions from Bill. But once Bill understood how Jeff worked best, he was able to put Jeff’s near-photographic memory and attention to detail to work for the business. Jeff’s work ethic and reliability are also valuable assets to Bill in a small business where young, inexperienced workers tend to come and go quickly.

The current iteration of UCP of Oregon & Southwest Washington’s employment service, Employment Solutions, began in 2006 through a grant which allowed for just one full-time Employment Specialist supporting just a dozen job seekers. Since then the service has thrived and can boast about long-term success stories like Jeff Corwin’s.

Employment Specialists each invest approximately 500 hours of training in the first year and 100 hours each year thereafter. Each one focuses on the person with a disability who they are serving as a customer purchasing their employment services, adhering to a guiding principle of personal customer service.

Program Manager Melissa Miller explains that the jobs must be community-based and integrated so that people with disabilities are working alongside people without disabilities and offer minimum-wage or better in order to be considered.  As they once did with Jeff Corwin, Melissa’s team seeks to match employers with job seekers who have particular skills or talents that are valued by the employer to ensure satisfaction on both ends.

Find out more about the Employment Solutions program at this UCP affiliate or find employment information and resources for people with disabilities at www.ucp.org.

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