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Vocational Program Expands to the Big House!

Special Tree vocational clients are accomplishing big things at the Big House!  For the U of M football 2016 season, a team of eight clients along with Special Tree job coaches are responsible for filling and cleaning all condiment stations at the 100,000 seat stadium during home games.   

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for our clients to get valuable work experience in the community,” said Rene Dell, Associate Director of Vocational Services.  With support from job coaches, clients are developing important job skills for competitive employment like following directions, working under stress, focusing on tasks, and being a part of a team. “Since working at the Big House, we’ve seen so much growth from clients,” she said. “Their self-confidence is up, they feel better about themselves, and it gives clients hope to know that it’s possible to find work in the community.”  

Being in charge of the condiments stations for the largest stadium in the country is a lot of work, but Rene says the group is having a great time doing it. “We have some serious U of M football fans in the group, so they love working behind the scenes and being part of the excitement.”     

The Big House is just one of many community enclaves that are part of Special Tree’s Vocational Rehabilitation program.  The enclaves are a great bridge for vocational clients who are ready to beef up their job readiness skills in a work environment outside of Special Tree.  Special Tree partners with local businesses and organizations to find paid, real work opportunities in the community that clients enjoy and for what they're best suited.  Prior to working in an enclave, vocational counselors develop an individualized vocational plan for each client through interviews, vocational testing, and/or in-depth vocational assessments.  Being familiar with each client's needs, interests, and goals helps job coaches to modify and adapt job tasks at enclaves so clients experience success and learn to work independently.  “We have a great team of hard working job coaches who are dedicated to helping clients reach their highest potential,” said Rene.  Currently, clients work at St. Vincent DePaul assisting customers and sorting and organizing donations; Ann Visger Elementary School assisting in the art room and tutoring kids in the classroom; and Health Source in Midland doing light janitorial work and visiting with patients.

Learn more about Special Tree's comprehensive Vocational Rehabiliation services.