Brenda: Carving out a job at Fitness Plus

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Background

Brenda is a woman in her 30s who has been working at the Fitness Plus gym for about two years. She works there for two and a half hours a day, twice a week, completing a list of tasks to keep the gym clean and organized, including putting away equipment. For the rest of the week, Brenda participates in a day program, doing volunteer work, arts and crafts, and other activities.

What's Important

Brenda met with a job coach and the job developer from Attleboro Enterprises, the agency that funds her day and employment services, to discuss her skills and interests and what she wanted to do for work. They considered that Brenda is a sociable, expressive person with a good sense of humor who would be happy working around other people. Previously she had worked at Babies 'R Us', doing some light cleaning. She had recently begun to take a greater interest in her diet and fitness, and everyone agreed that an environment that encouraged people to stay healthy would be a good match.

Through his professional network, Brenda's job developer became familiar with a local Fitness Plus gym and its manager, who had sole responsibility for running the gym. Although an outside company did the heavy cleaning work, the manager was still responsible for many other tasks, from organizing gym equipment to making and selling energy snacks at the gym's juice bar.

The job developer approached the manager and framed Brenda's abilities as a possible solution to his business needs. The manager agreed to meet with Brenda, the job developer, and a job coach to think about ways that Brenda might be able to help. After analyzing the manager's needs, a job description for an assistant emerged.

Also at this meeting, the gym's manager discussed the tasks he would like an assistant to perform. He was interested in hiring someone for five hours per week. Brenda's job coach wrote a list of possible tasks, and then she and Brenda and the gym manager reviewed it. When they had finalized the list of Brenda's tasks, the job coach prepared a picture book illustrating each task for Brenda so she could remember more easily what to do and in what order. With her job coach as a support and the book as a reference, Brenda started her job at Fitness Plus.

What Happened

Brenda is doing well at her job at Fitness Plus. She maintains various areas of the gym, including the daycare center, and keeps the exercise equipment organized. She has a good working relationship with her supervisor, who oversees what she's doing, providing direction and prompting as needed. If Brenda finishes her list of assigned tasks early, she exercises on the bikes and other gym equipment. She loves the children in the daycare center and is also well-liked by the gym members, who socialize with her and ask about her on her days off. Brenda says she would like to be working more hours, but she is happy with the extra money she makes and with the opportunity to work at the gym.

Lessons Learned:

  • The job developer assessed the employer's needs and emphasized Brenda's ability to help the gym's manager solve a business problem.
  • Brenda met the gym's need for help with all the tasks of managing the gym and her own need for a health-conscious work environment.
  • After the position was carved, a user-friendly picture book illustrated Brenda's tasks, increasing her likelihood of success.

For more information, contact:
Sheila Camara
Attleboro Enterprises, Incorporated
284 John Dietsch Boulevard
North Attleboro, MA 02763
Tel: 508-695-4046
Fax: 508-695-4080 Attleboro Enterprises, Inc.
Email: scamara@attleboroenterprises.org