Shipley Center earns recognition for employment opportunities

Silence, as the old adage goes, is golden. That holds true for a couple of Shipley Center employees who arrive early to make sure the senior-focused community facility remains clean, says center executive director Michael Smith.

“If I haven’t heard anything that means the job has been well done,” Smith said last week, as he accepted Morningside’s 2020 Outstanding Employer Award.

For more than two years, the Shipley Center has employed janitorial services from Morningside, a private not-for-profit that since 1963 looks to help employ individuals with disabilities by matching their skill and interest with jobs in the community.

For Shipley Center, that takes the form of Kyle White and Lee Bond, who share cleaning responsibilities each week. The job sharing sees both sanitizing the center prior to its opening. Despite the COVID-19 shutdown, Shipley Center sees 50-60 people on the campus on a give day, Smith said, between staff, The Café at Shipley Center customers and a few who receive essential services (nail cutting) and the facility on East Hammond Street.

“This is really good for the safety of the people coming to the center,” Smith said.

The great thing about the partnership, Smith said, is dependability. If one of the custodians calls in sick there’s always a backup, he said.

“It’s a big advantage to an employer: they get it covered,” Smith said. “That takes the management duties off the business.”

Morningside president/CEO Jonathan Pleger was on hand Feb. 5 to offer praise and present the award to Shipley Center staff and board members as well as White and Bond.

“We have a motto: ‘Everybody works, everybody wins’,” Pleger said.

“Shipley Center been huge supporter (by) focusing on their strengths and helping them succeed.”

Sequim Safeway gets honor

Sequim Safeway was the recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Employer Award, Medium Private Employer of the Year Award, as announced in October by the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

Nominated by Morningside employment consultant Karla Richardson, the store received kudos for its employment of Joe Sallee and spurred on by a Facebook posting sharing the story of how he adapted, with support, to changing requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The post has received 2,000 reactions on Facebook and reached more than 9,000 viewers, Morningside representatives said.

Key staff in the award, Richardson said, are store director Joe Barton and front end manager Marty Michaelis.

“The culture at Sequim Safeway is one that highly values inclusion of people with disabilities,” she said.

In nominating comments, Morningside representatives noted: “When Safeway has a job opening, Joe (Barton) will often inform and discuss his needs with community rehabilitation providers and then is willing to provide work experiences or working interviews to find the best fit. Even in March 2020, as the store had to pivot and establish all-new safety and sanitization protocols, Joe was willing to fill his staff needs with people with disabilities.

Sequim Safeway has eight people with disabilities on staff out of 120 employees, Morningside representatives said.

”Especially notable is that Joe retained people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic when many other businesses laid-off people with disabilities. These persons were considered essential workers in the State of Washington. The store worked closely as a team to support these individuals, and this included working with job coaches and supported employment programs such as those provided by Morningside.”

Sallee has worked as a courtesy clerk at the Sequim Safeway for six-and-half years. His primary task is to collect grocery carts in the parking area and return them to the store.

“He does this for his entire shift and he is the best there is at his job,” Morningside representatives said in the Facebook post. “With COVID 19, and the sudden hiring of temporary workers to sanitize everything, his cart routine turned upside down.”

Because Sallee thrives on routine, he temporarily left the job, but with some additional funding Morningside provided extra job coaching he needed to adjust to the new procedures.

“Morningside worked with his family to determine what face mask he could wear comfortably. We are glad Joe is now trained and adapted to all the changes. He is once again killing the cart retrieval.”