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Sycamore sees 91 percent job-placement success amid low-unemployment

By Chris Cornwall

Sycamore Services Inc., an agency that helps persons with disabilities lead independent lives, placed 131 individuals last year with a 91 percent success rate, according to Director of Employment Services Deborah Mitchell.

“The trend we are seeing is that employers are in need of good people to hire, especially for entry-level positions,” Mitchell said. “Typically, retail, food service, custodial, but we’ve also been successful in finding people office and full-time positions, managerial positions in some cases.”

Jessica Harris, Plainfield, was placed by Sycamore two years ago and is still working for her employer, Staybridge Suites, 6295 Cambridge Way, Plainfield. Harris sets up the breakfast bar, washes dishes and keeps the lobby clean.

General Manager Dan Schuerman said she does her job well and her friendly disposition is an asset when you consider that the last contact made with guests is typically in the hotel lobby.

“I knew on the first day when Jess filled out her application that she was the type of person you want,” Schuerman said. “Sycamore Services has been great to work with. It’s been a good partnership.”

Much of Schuerman’s contact with Sycamore has been through Employee Consultant, Tess Kunkle, who is responsible for placing, training and providing onsite support to jobseekers.

Kunkle said it starts with a “discovery period” when she and the client go out into the community–away from parents or caretakers–and sit down and talk.

“The information I get from the parents is usually what the parents want them to do, and not individual,” Kunkle said. “So, first I find out what the jobseeker wants and what they think they are really good at. What I’ve learned after many years of doing this is that, if they do not like what they are doing, just like most people, they’re not going to stay. They need to have some level of interest and also like it.”

Kunkle also acts as a go-between for employees and management if communication becomes an issue.  Schuerman said this has only been the case a few times in the past two years, but the situation was resolved quickly with help from Kunkle.

When asked if she enjoyed working at the hotel, Harris said the job has changed her life for the better, and also that “Dan (Shuerman) is an amazing manager.”

Kunkle said it’s this level of appreciation that can really make the difference.

“I believe this down to my core; every place has a need for something that one of our individuals can do. They will show up—rarely do we have an individual that calls in—because they appreciate what they have.”

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