Logo for: Kuhn Employment Opportunities

Kuhn is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist individuals with disabilities to become Valued, Independent, and Proud.

Kristina’s Story

KristinaKristina is a Meriden resident who joined Kuhn in 2004 with the goal to be able to work in the community. Kristina enjoys being outside and identified the Meriden Parks Litter Patrol crew as a preferred job site. With input from the City of Meriden Parks and Recreation Department and support from a Kuhn job coach, Kristina and her peers work at 30 of the highly trafficked parks in town.

Kristina reports that she felt her work was important and that she “liked being outside and cleaning the parks to make sure it was clean for the kids.” Kristina added that “people throw trash and make the parks look dirty,” which is why it is so important that she and others at Kuhn work as hard as they do to keep the parks looking beautiful.

Work is important to the participants of Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment Program. Kristina has many goals that she is working on while at Kuhn. She shared, “I am good at my job. Kuhn helps me make money, it helps me to communicate more” and added, “Kuhn makes me feel safe.”

Kristina’s increased confidence has allowed her to explore new job sites recently. She can often be found helping out her peers and being a role model for some of her friends. Kristina is now able to afford some of the luxuries in life and saves money to spend on a bit of self-care and pampering.

We look forward to continuing to watch Kristina grow and achieve all that she sets out to accomplish.  

Brandon’s Story

BrandonBrandon has been working for Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment Program since April of 2009. Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment program assists individuals with developmental disabilities to work within the community. Kuhn’s job sites include aiding with parks clean up, cleaning offices, and performing manufacturing tasks at several area businesses.

Brandon is a Valued member of an outdoor mobile crew that cleans up debris at various parks in Meriden. Brandon’s favorite part of working for Kuhn is being able to “pick up trash… keep the parks clean.” Brandon loves working outdoors with his cleaning crew because he is very environmentally friendly and likes to “make the animals’ home clean.”

Prior to working with Kuhn, Brandon struggled with impulse control, staying on task, and anxiety. With the continual support of a job coach Brandon is a strong worker and reports, “I have no behaviors with my staff.” Brandon feels that when he has consistent staff he is less likely to engage in negative behaviors.

Brandon says that he wants to “be safe” in the community, so he likes that Kuhn provides him with a staff person every day to support him. Brandon’s staff helps him to make positive choices while he’s at work.

Like most adults, Brandon looks forward to making a paycheck every other Friday. He saves his money for when he goes home to visit his family on the weekends. Working allows him to Independently participate in his community by going to the movies, visiting local fairs with his roommates, and shopping for new clothes. Brandon has also been saving money to purchase a ticket to a live WWE wrestling show, one of his favorite downtime activities.

When asked what he likes about Kuhn he replied with Pride, “I like Kuhn. Have a lot of friends here. I’m popular.”

George’s Story

GeorgeGeorge has been working for Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment Program since July 2012. Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment program assists individuals with developmental disabilities to work within the community. Kuhn’s job sites include aiding with parks clean up, cleaning offices, and performing manufacturing tasks at several area businesses.

George joined the Kuhn Group Supported Employment program to develop the skills to increase his independence on the job. He had a number of goals that he set for himself, but had obstacles that he was working to overcome. With the support of his job coach, George has learned how to handle himself in stressful situations, manage some of his frustrations, and find ways to cope while at work. He states, “Kuhn always supports me, and helps make sure I do not have behaviors.”

Over time George has excelled on the job. Working outside has been positive for him, and he enjoys doing a job where he can work with his hands. A community member posted on social media, “Huge shout out to Patricia and her group from Kuhn Day program and day services!!! They are out at Habershon Park making this place shine!!! I admire the hard work and wonderful act of community service!!!” George likes working, and feedback like this helps to make him feel like the valued member of the community that we know him to be.

When people meet at a party they often will first ask what is it that you do. George can now respond and feels proud knowing that he is earning money doing something that is important in the community. He shared, “Kuhn allows me to feel like I matter.” He also shared recently that he “likes making money… and is saving for vacations and shopping.”

George’s goal is to one day work at Stop and Shop. We feel this is not a far-off goal for him, and we are thankful to be able to offer him the opportunity to work at the Meriden Parks as a step toward this goal.

Yami’s Story

YamiYami joined Kuhn in March of 2018. She was a participant in the Kuhn Group Supported Employment program. Upon joining Kuhn, Yami was shy, and her confidence in speaking English was low, which caused her to have a lot of insecurities. With the support of a job coach, Yami learned the new job tasks at several locations in the community. Yami became more responsible with regard to her work and would call in if she was absent, would request time off in advance of a vacation, and would advocate for herself if she needed help with something on the job. She at times struggled with some of the interpersonal relationships that she had with her peers. Her job coach assisted her in developing independent problem-solving while on the job and ultimately she was able to better manage those work relationships.

Over time we watched Yami grow. Her productivity increased and she could be relied on to complete all tasks independently. She even could be found supporting others on her crew who needed additional help. It was clear that Yami could do so much and really did not need to rely heavily on a job coach, so staff began helping her to build confidence to move toward an independent employment opportunity.

In November 2020, Yami began working with an Employment Specialists within Kuhn’s Independent Supported Employment Program. Yami very quickly was hired at McDonalds. While somewhat stressful, the job at McDonalds was a great success for Yami; the tools she gained in the Group Supported Employment Program helped her to manage some of the challenging relationships with peers and her supervisor. Yami has clearly just begun in her professional career. The skills and confidence that she gained in Kuhn’s Group Supported Employment Program funded by the United Way has helped her to prepare for this independent job and know that she is already a great success and an inspiration to so many people.

Larry G.’s Story – Making the Move from GSE to ISE

Larry G.Work is important to Larry, and that was clear when he joined Kuhn in January 2017 as a participant in the Group Supported Employment (GSE) Program. Larry had previously participated in other Day Programs, but found Kuhn Employment Opportunities when he moved to Meriden.

While in Kuhn’s GSE Program, Larry had the opportunity to work at various job sites including mobile work crews that clean various parks in the Meriden and Middletown areas, janitorial work, and box making in a sterile environment for a medical supply company. As he grew as an employee, Larry was able to overcome the challenges that had held him back from working independently. With increased self-confidence in his work skills, Larry then made the decision that he wanted a job working on his own in the community.

With support from his team, Larry began his journey of moving from GSE to the Independent Supported Employment (ISE) program in December 2020. And despite the COVID pandemic, he was undeterred.

Larry worked with a Kuhn Employment Specialist, initially one day a week, to identify his job interests, develop a resume writing, and practice interviewing skills. Larry also worked with his Employment Specialist to complete a Career Plan, which helped him to determine what job would be a good fit for him. Larry’s goal was to work in a restaurant. Although he wanted to earn more money in his independent job, it was getting a new job that was most important to Larry.

Larry and his ES continued to meet on a weekly basis to research jobs available, and if interested apply for the job. Along with his Employment Specialist, he worked diligently to find a job where he could excel.

In 2021 Larry secured a job at Wendy’s working Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday doing janitorial tasks. During this time, Larry continued to work in the GSE program two days per week. Larry’s hard work paid off when in October 2023, Wendy’s added Mondays to his schedule, thus completing his full transition from GSE to ISE. Now working independently four days per week, Larry is a true success story. Larry’s store manager Cora says she loves having Larry as part of the Wendy’s team and that “he does a great job and is always willing to help out with any task we give him.”

Larry, as well as Kuhn, is proud of his accomplishments and his independence at work. Larry embodies Kuhn’s VIP mission: Valued in the community, Independent by earning a wage, and Proud to be working.