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The Arc Big Bend strives for student employment

The Arc Big Bend, Inc. began our pilot project this summer providing jobs to students with disabilities. Thanks to a grant from the Arc Gateway in Pensacola and Arc Florida in Tallahassee, three Madison County High School students are experiencing their first job opportunity this summer. Three local businesses have opened their doors to allow a student with a disability to learn what it is like to have their first job. These students would not have had an opportunity to gain this work experience without a unique partnership developed between the Arc Big Bend and three local employers, Corporate Graphics International, The Madison County Chamber of Commerce and the Madison County Senior Citizens Council. The Arc Big Bend will continue to sponsor a few students with disabilities each summer to participate in a real job so that when they graduate, they will be ready to enter the workforce. The Arc Big Bend, Inc. hopes to help local students with disabilities to be prepared for work and to level the playing field for them by providing them with the knowledge and tools to be ready for their transition from school into the workforce. Our student workers are assessed prior to job placement to ensure a good fit with our employers. We provide supervision and/or coaching and support for the students based upon their individual needs to help them succeed.

Jarquis Jones
Jarquis is a 17-year-old Madison County High School student. He lives with his mother and two brothers. Jarquis has an older sister that lives on her own. Jarquis is quiet and has excellent manners. He likes playing basketball, swimming, listening to music and hanging out with friends. Jarquis does chores at home to help prepare him for employment and for being independent. Jarquis is willing to learn new things and is curious to see what type of job he may want when he gets out of school. The Madison County Senior Citizen Council has welcomed Jarquis in this summer to help, particularly during the lunchtime rush. Jarquis works in the kitchen. One of his main jobs is to load and unload the dishwasher and clean the dining area. His supervisor, Nutritionist, Pat McGhee is very loving and patient with Jarquis. Jarquis has quickly endeared himself to all of the staff. He is a hard worker and eager to learn new tasks.

Tyler Sapp
Tyler is 18 years old and a student at Madison County High School.  He lives with his father, grandmother and a younger brother.  He has never had a job before, but his family has helped him prepare by teaching him to be responsible for a few household chores.  Tyler likes watching TV and especially likes the old Cartoon Classics. Tyler likes working with others and enjoys helping his Grandmother and Dad at home. He is working on the production line at Corporate Graphics Corporate Graphics International General Manager Mr. Bob Gonynor has worked with the Arc Big Bend throughout the years on different projects. This year we approached Bob and Mr. Chris Thompson, Shipping/ Finishing Supervisor, to allow Tyler Sapp to experience a job inside of their plant, working on the production line. Mr. Thompson says that Tyler is doing great and that he a conscientious worker. What a great opportunity for Tyler to have this exposure in the working world and to help him build his confidence levels in a real work setting. Corporate Graphics is a very progressive company and this chance to work there is Tyler’s first step in building a resume with real work experience. When Tyler graduates from school he will have a head start with this experience and education about what it takes to be a good employee.

Darius Bivens
Darius is a 17-year-old Madison County High School student. He lives with his mother and father and has an older brother who is attending college. Darius is a shy young man and very quiet when you first meet him; however, he is very respectful and has excellent manners. Darius surprised his family after his first day of work by coming home and telling them all about his job. The Madison County Chamber of Commerce brought Darius in to help them with preparing information packets for tourists and visitors. He is also helping to organize office files and memorabilia. When the idea was first mentioned, the Executive Director, Lisa Frieman, readily agreed to host a student worker. The Chamber has had such a positive impact on Darius. Once again, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce reaches out to support and uplift our community. This summer experience will provide some employment training and skills to add to Darius’s resume and will help to improve confidence and interpersonal skills.

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1. Photo Submitted. Jarquis Jones (right) is the newest employee at the Madison County Senior Citizens Council. He is pictured with his boss, Nutritionist Pat McGhee.
2. Photo Submitted. Tyler Sapp is the newest employee at Corporate Graphics as part of the Arc Big Bend’s summer work experience program. He works on the production line.
3. Photo Submitted. Darius Bivens (right) is pictured with his boss, Madison Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Frieman (left). He helps prepare information packets for visitors.

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