Richard Hillicker enjoys his employment of nine years with the Waste Management Department at Lane Community College. Shortly after moving to Eugene in 2004, Hillicker enrolled in the program called Specialized Student Support offered at Lane’s main campus.
“Richard likes to do impressions while working, it helps the day go by faster and entertains us,” Gary Boer, developmental disabilities specialist, said. Hillicker then showed his talent with an imitation of Clint Eastwood and some of the puppets from Jim Henson’s “The Muppets.”
Hillicker says he is an expert at his job, knowing the daily routine and following the rules at Waste Management is very important. One of the responsibilities given to him is the training of new student workers, he has trained four or five in his nine years of employment. Due to the training and support received from Specialized Support Services, Hillicker has a goal of working for Costco in the future.
“I always am busy, and love sorting and rinsing out the recycling. Now it’s lunch time, I need to clean up,” Hillicker commented with a quick glance at his watch.
Specialized Support Services, located on Lane’s main campus, provides training tailored for students who have developmental disabilities. The department has been a part of Lane for over 40 years. The program is constantly evolving to meet the students’ and community’s needs.
Carla Kreklau, a student worker with Lane and member of Specialized Support Services of 27 years, works with a partner on the housekeeping staff. Kreklau keeps on task, loves speaking with and saying hello to everyone.
“I love helping people and working with my partner. When I go into the classroom I always make sure I am quiet to not bother them,” Kreklau said.
Jeffrey Nutting, housekeeping classified lead said, “Carla enjoys her job, and follows all the rules.”
Specialized Support Services, known as “S3,” consists of 28 Lane employees — 8 classified and 20 hourly. Staff helps student workers improve their confidence with job training. The specialized staff employs 46 non-credit student workers, in addition to 13 former workers who have left Lane for active employment in the community.
Staff regularly checks in with workers who have moved from campus employment to the community. When needed, specialized support staff facilitate meetings between community employment and employees, including the worker’s family.
“This program is geared to help student workers to be fully integrated with everyone, and to learn this in a safe environment,” Alyse Stone, director of Specialized Support Services said.
S3 is overseen by the office of Developmental Disabilities and State of Oregon Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. The partnership between Lane and the office of developmental is constantly evolving. The S3 program is dedicated to meeting the college needs, implementing the state’s guidelines as well as meeting the needs of the student workers. S3 strives to meet Lane’s mission statement of “ … to be the community’s college and to provide outcome based education.”
“What better example of Lane’s mission being met than our participants learning skills to compete within the job market, then become employed into the community,” Stone said. Student workers who are involved with the specialized student support services have requirements in order to participate in the program. Individuals must have a cognitive or developmental limitation and attend a meeting called Job Club.
Job Club is facilitated by staff once a month and includes a variety of subjects. Topics include everything from useful tips to enter into competitive employment or the frustrations of student workers. Many times, successful former student workers come to speak at meetings. Often they share experiences from their outside employment in the community.
Student workers who participate in the specialized support program do not have a time limitation of how long they can be involved. Although, most of the time a participant ages out of the program, Stone said.
“I work with a staff of excited, wonderful people and look forward to the future. Our student workers are amazing, and moving onto amazing things,” Stone said.
Student workers involved with Specialized Support Services work as a team to help all students of Lane. All the student workers take pride in their work with a smile on their face.