Shining the Light on an Untapped Employment Pool


(D.J. | Photo Courtesy of Opportunity Foundation)

As business leaders, we want to be responsible members of our community, and part of that means being aware of an often un-tapped or overlooked job pool. This job pool consists of those who are willing to work with special abilities.

Let’s shine the light on some of the benefits of hiring someone with diverse abilities. There is a large pool of individuals dedicated to finding a meaningful job that is community inclusive. The Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon has been serving over 270 of these individuals who experience intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as autism, down-syndrome and cerebral palsy. The mission of the Opportunity Foundation is to empower people of diverse abilities.

This means helping these individuals achieve their dreams of working in a community job that provides them with more choices and dignity to live a life that meaningful to them. Opportunity Foundation has a Business Services manager who can visit your place of business and help you look for areas to take the valuable but often time repetitive jobs, and hand those over to someone who is the right fit for your business. There are a wide variety of tasks and jobs that could easily fit any business. We have over 80 individuals who currently work in job fields from restaurants, manufacturing, office or corporate environments, to work in medical equipment processing.

With a staff of over a dozen employment coaches, Opportunity Foundation has coaches who are ready and trained to come along with a supported staff to your place of business and work anywhere from two to 40 hours a week. The Opportunity Foundation is extremely flexible in meeting your desired outcome. The employment coach helps work alongside and train the individual and make sure all of your business needs are fully met.

Businesses who hire have found an increase in productivity and a positive impact on company culture. Workers from this diverse pool come in to work, prepared, ready and happy. Their attitude toward the work they do is motivating to the other staff because even with what may be perceived as limitations, the work is done on time, to specifications, and with passion. One Central Oregon business with revenues surpassing 40 million, saw the effects of productivity by handing over the job of prepackaging nuts and bolts prepared by a group of four to five individuals who come with an employment coach, and they saved countless hours and money for the company by giving this time saving job to a small group of individuals who came and worked three days a week on site.

Opportunities are available in our community to support this often underutilized resource and help make our places more diverse and inclusive. The impacts on the individual who realizes their dream of working in the community are immeasurable, as well as the impact on the culture and morale of the business that hires from this amazing pool.

For more information on how to attend a free Lunch + Learn session to learn more about the pool of qualified applicants and how your business can save time and money by hiring, email


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