It’s a Wednesday around lunch time at West Sioux Community School in Hawarden, IA. Corey VanBochove is early to his shift in the janitorial department, preparing to do some deep cleaning around the school. Peering into the cafeteria kitchen, he offers an exuberant recognition of “Miss Patty!” to one of the staff. He warmly greets teachers and administration as he makes his way through his tasks, beaming with excitement at each person he encounters. He then dutifully begins a routine of vacuuming, cleaning the library and gymnasium, sweeping the floors, taking out the trash, among other responsibilities.
Rewind a few minutes, and Corey’s demeanor was much different. Corey’s nature is a bit more reserved, but walking into work – he immediately lights up. “Work is a good social outlet for Corey,” affirms My Choice Transition Specialist Shay Davis. “You can see that he is proud of what he does.” What was life like for Corey before his job at the school? Corey graduated from West Sioux Community School a few years ago and was searching for a vocation that matched his abilities and talents. Without a program like My Choice, Corey was unfortunately facing difficulties in securing competitive employment on his own.
Corey became an active My Choice participant in September 2018. My Choice Employment is Hope Haven’s community-based, integrated employment service option for youth and adults in Northwest Iowa. This program helps link up potential employers with prospective employees, providing a beneficial connection for both parties. Corey is not alone – there is an evident need for this service in Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota, with over 300 individuals obtaining competitive employment through the My Choice program since its inception in 2013.
How did Corey find his job at West Sioux? Shay aided Corey in assessing his abilities, ultimately considering a janitorial job and if it was something Corey could pursue, should he desire to. Shay then worked with the West Sioux Community School administration to determine if Corey would be a good fit for their needs, and Corey interviewed in April 2019. Today it’s clear that this match has been valuable for both parties. “I think everybody in this school knows Corey,” comments West Sioux Community School Principal Travis Popken, “He’s a joy to have come through.” Janitor Brad Hofland is also appreciative for Corey’s assistance each week: “It frees up my schedule. It’s been a great help to me." Corey began work at West Sioux in May 2019, and he now works Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
What’s next for Corey and the My Choice program? Corey and his My Choice support staff have found success in Corey’s current job setup, but have considered the option of expanding Corey’s schedule to include added days and shifts. Additionally, Corey’s progress may mean that he could work more independently and require less management from his Job Coach. Corey’s joy about his employment and the reciprocation by the school is summed up by his Job Coach Kelly Vanderpol: “It's heartwarming to witness Corey being enfolded at West Sioux.”