A Successful Partnership Continues

Continuing its successful partnership with the local Youth Transition Program, Columbia Basin Care is happy to welcome Samuel as a Kitchen Assistant.

The Youth Transistion Program (YTP) prepares youth with disabilities for employment or career-related postsecondary education or training through the provision of a comprehensive array of pre-employment transition activities and supports. This practice is a collaborative effort among Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation, Oregon Department of Education, the University of Oregon, and school districts throughout Oregon.

Samuel, 21, has flourished since participating in the YTP.

“Sam’s journey to employment has been awesome to be a part of,” says Yvonne Wheeler, the resident Youth Transition Specialist for North Wasco County School District No. 21 who serves 25 youth each year. “We explored his interests and then connected those interests to specific volunteer work experiences. Ultimately, Sam began to discover a passion for kitchen work.”

Before joining Columbia Basin, Sam volunteered as an assistant in The Dalles Meals on Wheels program.

Founded in 1969, Meals on Wheels program aims to enrich the lives of seniors by providing nutritious food in a social environment. At The Dalles location, meals are served to seniors over the age of 60 in the form of home deliveries and congregate meals.

“Sam was great about showing up — even in the deep snow. He basically chipped in and did everything,” says Pam Farley, head cook at The Dalles Meals on Wheels. “He put things on trays, worked in the serving line and did dishes.”

Upon completing his volunteer work at The Dalles Meals on Wheels, Samuel applied for an internship at Columbia Basin Care to gain more kitchen experience.


IT TAKES A TEAM: From left, Darla of Vocational Rehab, Sam, Joe Fischer of Columbia Basin, Yvonne of Youth Transition Program.

After four months of hands-on training, Samuel was offered a paid position as  Kitchen Assistant. He works 1.5 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

“I always knew someday I’d find a job — that’s what kept me going”, says Samuel, smiling from ear to ear. “I always think positive things, not negative.”

Joe Fischer, Food Service Director at Columbia Basin Care, sees Samuel as a positive addition to the team.

“Sam doesn’t really have a bad day. He always comes to work in a good mood,” says Fischer.  “I wish I could get more employees that have the same work ethic as Sam. He’s something that’s not very prevalent in today’s workforce.”

In the kitchen, Sam prepares resident trays with silverware, napkins, and condiments. He sometimes washes dishes too. “Joe will usually just let me know what I need to do while I’m working,” he says confidently.

Since joining Columbia Basin Care in July, Samuel has shown himself to be keenly interested in not only performing his current duties well but in broadening his culinary skills. And that has not gone unnoticed. Fischer has plans to encourage Samuel’s interest.

“Sam mentioned a while ago that he likes soup; that’s something we could expand on since Mondays are soup days,” says Fischer. Samuel’s smile grows wide with this comment.

Wheeler is thrilled to see Samuel achieve success while finding his niche in the kitchen at Columbia Basin Care.

“It’s so rewarding to assist a YTP youth in realizing what type of employment they are genuinely enthusiastic about, and then, with hard work, determination and guidance, help them seek out a business that mirrors that enthusiasm,” she says. “It’s a win-win situation that unequivocally makes our community a stronger and brighter place for all, one life, one business, at a time.”

Originally published by the University of Oregon – Youth Transition Program.