Aaron has always wanted to work in the healthcare field. Specifically, at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
“My parents and I drove by the Medical Center when it was being built and I said, ‘that’s where I want to work!’” recalled Aaron.
As an adult with disabilities, Aaron needed support on his employment journey. So, Aaron connected with Portal, inc.
Located in Ozaukee County, Portal Inc. Is a nonprofit agency that supports adults with developmental disabilities. Donations to United Way’s Community Fund support Portal’s Employment Readiness & Advancement program, which prepares individuals with disabilities for employment and self-sufficiency.
Through Portal, Aaron received help preparing for his job interview with Aurora. When he was hired as part of the environmental services department, Portal Job Coach Mary supported Aaron as he learned his new role.
Fast forward 11 years and Aaron is a treasured member of the Aurora Grafton team. Aaron knows each staff member by name and loves saying hi to everyone as he walks the halls with his cleaning cart.
“My favorite part of my job is the social part,” said Aaron. “Talking with coworkers, patients, and visitors.”
During COVID-19, Aaron didn't miss a beat. As an essential worker, Aaron performed important tasks like disinfecting high-touch areas and stocking mask, hand sanitizer, and tissue stations.
About 25% of Portal’s supported employment clients held jobs that were considered essential during the initial phase of the pandemic.
“If they felt comfortable continuing to work, we supported our clients in any way we could,” said Jeanne Neuburg and Linda Stegemeyer, Portal’s employment services managers. “We are so proud of the ways our clients adapted to all the changes during a very scary time.”
Hospital protocols meant Aaron’s job coaches could not come onsite, so they supported him virtually, calling over FaceTime and texting to check in. Aaron also met Coach Jeanne in-person at Portal once a month to work on new skills like social distancing.
“There was a lot to learn for Aaron at the beginning of COVID,” said Coach Linda. “But, as usual, he caught on quickly.”
Today, Aaron continues to thrive at work. Job coaches stop by twice per week to check in but knows that Aaron now has the skills he needs to succeed.
“Working makes me happy!” said Aaron with a smile.
When you give to United Way, you're not just making a donation. You're changing a life. Aaron and Portal remind us all that, to live better, we must Live United.