Steven: Supported Employment Success in Rochester, MN


Meet Steven, a 29 year-old Opportunity Services client who works at The Homestead in Rochester, Minnesota. Steven has been on-the-job as a Certified Nursing Assistant since November 2015.

Steven moved to Rochester several years ago and held different jobs in the fast food industry. He had the opportunity to participate in an Autism Pilot with SEMCIL (Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living) and Vocational Rehabilitation Services a few years ago, where he could test out different job types/industries. Steven was provided with supports from both programs and from their combined efforts, they suggested he try a Certified Nursing Assistant Program, so he went ahead and took a course. “Steven has a great personality and is a caring person,” says Bonnie Bittner, Steven’s career counselor from Vocational Rehabilitation Services. “It seemed like a logical fit to encourage him to work toward the CNA certificate.” Steven realized that he does enjoy working with other people and utilizing his problem solving skills so a CNA position was the perfect fit for him!

From there Steven started working with Lisa Lundquist, Opportunity Services job coach. He tried working at another nursing home facility but didn’t feel the environment was the best fit for him. When The Homestead in Rochester opened last April, the Opportunity Services team thought it might be a better fit for Steven. Amanda Oelkers, Staffing and Recruitment Manager at Homestead met Laurie Ackerman, Opportunity Services Sales and Marketing Manager at a Rochester Chamber of Commerce Event. Amanda liked the idea of partnering with Opportunity Services and finding qualified and passionate employees. “I wish we could clone Steven,” says Amanda. “He is the ideal employee- he does a great job at work and brings positive energy wherever he goes.” The Homestead looks forward to hiring more Opportunity Services clients in the future.

Lisa Lundquist, Steven’s job coach from Opportunity Services has appreciated working with him as well. “Steven is the perfect person for taking care of others,” says Lisa. “His matter of fact attitude and patience make him very easy to get along with in any situation.” Steven is now thriving on the job and his case with VRS will be closed. Moving forward, he will be a part of the Extended Employment Grant where he can continue to receive long-term supports on the job. “The EE Grant is perfect for Steven,” states Lisa. “He is completely stable on-the-job but can use assistance with additional training or new things that come up in his position.”

In his free time, Steven likes to dabble with photography. He carries his camera everywhere and doesn’t miss an opportunity to take pictures of the city landscapes. Additionally he is hoping to get his license this spring and can’t wait to drive his own car! Eventually Steven would like to take classes at the Mayo and receive a nursing or medical degree but for now, Steven is very happy as a CNA at The Homestead and looks forward to every work shift scheduled on his calendar! This story is a great example of synergy as all teams came together to figure out this best opportunity for Steven. We couldn’t be happier for Steven and his success on-the-job!