A day in the life of an employment support specialist

By Tatiana Peralta 01/19/2021
A day in the life of an employment support specialist

For six years, Brian Robinson has provided support and mentorship to people with disabilities working on AbilityOne® contracts through ECHO Works. As an employment support specialist, he drives people with disabilities to and from their job sites, supports them in their day-to-day activities, and looks for various ways to empower them so they have an opportunity for upward mobility. ECHO is one of more than 700 nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica® network that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities across the United States.

Brian’s team is comprised of four people with disabilities that maintain the grounds and complete various tasks around the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) buildings in West Virginia. All this work is done through the AbilityOne Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people with significant disabilities. Brian is the supervisor at the sites, ensuring work gets completed for these federal customers and that the employees on the contract receive any needed support.

Brian is focused on letting the individuals that work within the contract run the show, and they never skip a beat. As their supervisor, Brian has learned that there is very little that these individuals can’t do, and that they’re always willing to rise above any challenge to complete the task at hand. If a new employee comes on board feeling anxious about their job, Brian quickly helps them grow professionally and emotionally and become subject matter experts.

One of Brian’s employees noted that he is very supportive and good to work with. “He is a great boss, and truly understands me.”

ECHO promotes employment for people with disabilities by eliminating barriers such as transportation challenges. Brian’s day starts around 7:00 a.m. when he leaves home to pick up employees and bring them to work. As the driver, he knows he sets the tone for the day. Classic rock can usually turn the attitudes of those he picks up from sleepy to awake and ready for the day ahead. Once everyone is in the vehicle, they drive to ECHO, where Brian and his team load a trailer with supplies before leaving for their job site. Once they arrive, they head to either the FAA or the USGS building depending on the day.

At the job site, they are all focused on completing their responsibilities. During lunch, Brian takes the time to speak with his staff about their day. If someone is struggling with a certain task, he offers guidance and support. Lunch gives them the opportunity to sit back and relax before starting the second half of the day. In the afternoon, they put the finish touches on their morning rounds, clean the mowers, and wash up. The day ends at 4 p.m. and Brian drives them back home.

“Brian exhibits an incredible energy at ECHO every day,” said his supervisor, Precious Saah. “He is always smiling and willing to help no matter what the task is. Brian also has a sense of humor, which is an amazing strength in this line of work.”

Brian credits the AbilityOne Program for his own personal growth. Working on this contract has taught him a lot about the talent that people with disabilities hold. Watching them give it their all makes Brian want to turn around and work even harder. Brian’s team takes pride in their work and communicates well with one another to complete their tasks efficiently and precisely. Brian’s favorite part of the job extends beyond the great customers he serves to the people he works with. He takes great pride in seeing their success day-in and day-out.

“Brian is the perfect supervisor for an Ability One contract,” said ECHO’s Director of Employment and Advocacy Jenifer Liberi. “He provides opportunities for his crew to be the best they can. He supports them in learning new tasks, encourages them to try new and different things, and believes in their abilities.”

If you’re interested in working with SourceAmerica to employ people with disabilities at your company, please contact customerservice@sourceamerica.org.