Determined to Succeed

Joe at The Hotel Hershey

Joe is a young man who is focused and determined on doing the best job that he can do. In late 2010, Joe set forth to find a job where he could showcase his abilities and demonstrate what he is capable of doing.  Joe, who is visually impaired and on the Autism Spectrum, knew that he could be a valuable asset to a company that would give him a chance to prove himself. With the full support and encouragement from his family and support staff, Joe began the process of finding the right job for himself.

There were many ups and down in what was a 10-month journey for Joe. He was determined after each experience to keep trying until he reached his goal. Joe never gave up or despaired about not getting a job. After several opportunities that didn’t work out, Joe found a good fit.  In March of 2011, an opening at The Hotel Hershey working in the storeroom supplying the various restaurants presented itself. Joe had some experience volunteering at the food bank and felt this was a job he could handle. Joe landed the job and the first part of his goal was accomplished.

When Joe started working, he had support staff with him throughout the entirety of his shifts. Joe and the staff at The Hotel Hershey meshed quickly and he became more and more independent at doing his job on his own. With the support and guidance of his supervisor Lester, Joe quickly succeeded at learning and performing his job duties. Lester helped Joe become part of the family at The Hotel and gave Joe many chances to prove he could do the job. Within two months, Joe went from having 40 hours of support on the job site to none at all. He demonstrated that he was able to handle the job on his own and The Hotel Hershey staff embraced Joe, offering him support if he needed it.

Joe continued to work and take great pride in being a member of the team at The Hotel Hershey. Earlier this year, Joe displayed how determined he is to go above and beyond at his job. No matter the weather, Joe came into work. Even during some of the worst snow storms, Joe showed up ready to work. One day in January, Joe was the only one from his department able to make it to work and held down the duties of the department on his own.  The chefs and rest of the kitchen staff took note of Joe’s work and gave him Legacy Checks, a recognition program designed by employees of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) to recognize fellow employees for exceptional work. Lester was proud of the work Joe did, saying, “He had it all down and did a fantastic job.” Joe himself was very proud of the recognition, stating, “It has been wonderful and my coworkers have been so nice.”

The recognition of his hard work did not stop there. For all of his efforts, Joe was honored as the employee of the month in January at The Hotel Hershey. Speaking about how he was able to come in to work on those bad weather days, Joe said, “I am always there when you need me.”  Joe has now been at The Hotel Hershey for three years. He has found a place to grow and is continually offered more responsibilities in his job duties. Lester and the rest of The Hotel Hershey staff continue to give Joe the opportunities that make his determination worthwhile and are proud to call him a colleague.

Finding a Voice in Leadership

Personal story shared by Kathyann

I am someone who has lived with multiple medical disabilities. I graduated and worked for four years as a case manager.

I began my journey with mental health challenges, resulting in hospitalizations and multiple partial and outpatient programs. I went on disability for twelve years. In the 1980s and 1990s, being on disability was like a permanent death sentence with no hope. What I did have were supporters at my church who could still see potential in me when I did not see it in myself.

They spoke with me earnestly and lovingly, encouraging me to go back to school. It meant reinstating my student loans and going to school in a wheelchair, but I did it. I went back to school and graduated. I moved to Harrisburg and took several grant and volunteer jobs, where I networked and built relationships.

At first, I was hired as a Service Coordinator, but after six months, we parted ways. I had used six months of my working disabled period. I had, however, met some case managers from Keystone and was impressed by their “can do” attitude.

In 1998, I applied for a direct care position in Supportive Living. There were concerns about accommodation issues (not climbing stairs, etc.), but they took a risk and hired me.

In 2005, when I was home on FMLA with two broken legs, this same supervisor called to ask me to think about applying for a new position that was being developed.

In 2006, I was hired as the first Community Relations Coordinator to serve in the role of a “consumer” on the Management Board.

Today, I represent Keystone on a variety of regional and state boards and facilitate the Keystone Leadership Council, empowering others to find their voice in leadership.

These days, I maintain my own personal wellness by using the WRAP tool (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and actually living those principles throughout my life. I have also been trained as an Advanced Level Facilitator and have the opportunity to work across Keystone in the development of the WRAP program for others whom we serve.

On June 28, 2013, I celebrated my 15th anniversary of working at Keystone.

What wellness tools have helped you to stay well and able to work?