INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Job One is an organization that serves about 400 people in the Kansas City metro.
They say they serve those who are "differently-abled."
The organization has been working harder than ever to help its participants find summer jobs during the pandemic.
Job One’s three locations and 40 staff members work to break down barriers to employment for adults with disabilities. COVID-19 proved to be another barrier they broke down this year.
Their Summer Work Experience Program helps rising high school seniors like Skyler, who worked at the Kansas City Zoo.
"I’m really grateful, I found out about Job One through my school, which was really helpful," Skyler said.
"It had been hard to get her a job before, and because of this program, now she has a job at the zoo, she’ll be able to keep working long term," Skyler's mother Amanda added.
Job One also partners with local businesses, like KC Coffee Roasters.
"We had three interns this year, each of which brought a unique skill set to the table and it was really amazing to be able to work with them," said Holly Ann, a co-owner of the Roasters.
Another rising senior named Melissa worked at Colonial Gardens.
"I met new people and we did a lot of fertilizing and planting," Melissa explained.
She’s a Special Olympian, but the pandemic halted those competitions. The job, her mother Becky said, saved the summer.
"It was a hard summer, it really was, because of the pandemic, and she can’t do her normal things. For her to be able to go out and do all this and be confident and strong at it and do a wonderful job was awesome," the mother said.
Darrien is 17 and worked at Xtreme Gymnastics. He thought COVID-19 would close off his summer, too.
"I thought it was really great. I actually didn’t expect to do this summer program, because I thought of the pandemic, it was done for. I’m actually glad my mom gave me some extra help," Darrien said.
Extra help from parents, and from Job One. Their mission: help those who are differently-abled, and open doors to their community.
"Seeing them gain skills and abilities that they didn’t’ have before and understand what the working world is like, it’s truly a valuable experience that they wouldn’t get otherwise," said Jeff Carpenter, Job One's director of business development.
Job One said that two to three years after their participants join, 95 percent of them have jobs in the community.
If you to learn more about the organization, visit their website.