NNCIL & The Jungle Co-Hosting Merchant Mixer

Reno, NV (September 3, 2015) – As part of the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living’s (NNCIL) mission to help people with disabilities live independently, the organization collaborates with the Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation (DETR) on a Customized Employment Program, which provide assistance to job seekers with disabilities who need additional services to become qualified for employment.

Kaycee RespecioNNCIL has potential employees ready to go to work, but they’re looking for more employers who are interested in partnering on job development. NNCIL organizers are partnering with The Jungle to host a mixer designed to educate businesses about the Customized Employment Program, and to introduce prospective employers and employees to each other. The Merchant Mixer will take place at The Jungle, 246 W. 1st Street, Tuesday, September 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 and includes free appetizers and drink specials. People interested in attending the program can visit the Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/1493395647619514/ or contact Kristen Darnielle at (775) 353-3599 or KristenDarnielle@yahoo.com.

As Lead Job Developer, Darnielle is responsible for helping people with disabilities find work in fulfilling jobs that match up with their talents and contributions. She shares the story of Kaycee Respecio who suffered brain damage at the age of 22. Though she faces many challenges, Respecio was anxious to get back to work.

“Her vocational goal is art, she wants to be surrounded by creativity,” Darnielle explains. “We talked to Matt Polley, the owner of The Jungle and he was very receptive to talking to her about a job, even though he was in the middle of a huge remodel.”

In March 2015, Respecio went to work for The Jungle as a barista assistant, making $8.25 an hour. Polley says she’s one of the best employees he’s ever had. “Kaycee has been an excellent employee, she takes great direction and she fits in very well with the rest of my crew,” he says. “She’s one of the best employees I have. She definitely raises the bar.”

“The Jungle is in the heart of Artown, giving her access to a good job surrounded by creativity,” Darnielle says. “She’s looking forward to displaying some of her own artwork there at some point.”

Kaycee’s is only one success story, but Darnielle and NNCIL have plenty of others and they’re working on even more. “It does take a lot of effort, but it’s so worth it when we make these matches,” Darnielle says. “Our clients are much happier doing work they enjoy and the businesses are getting employees who are truly happy to be there.”

Darnielle’s job is made more challenging by the perception that people with special needs can’t contribute in the workplace. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand,” she says. “They’re afraid of liability and that the training will be too hard, so they don’t want to deal with it.”

NNCIL addresses this by doing the research up-front and helping out with the training. Darnielle attends on-site training with her clients so that she understands expectations, then she works with them to make sure they’re fully prepared to take on the task at hand. She also acts as their advocate, helping them continue to learn and to voice any concerns that might come up.

Polley says he was hesitant to get involved with the program because he had a lot going on, including a major remodel and a new baby. “The program has actually been really easy to work with,” he says. “Kristen was really on top of it. She made a great match for us.”

About Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living

NNCIL was founded in 1982 by a small group of people with disabilities, who believe that each person, regardless of the severity of his or her disability, has the potential to grow, develop and share fully the joys and responsibilities of our society. For more information, visit www.nncil.org.