ProAct helps residents with job, life skillsLocal people with disabilities are learning valuable job and life skills through the ProAct program in Hudson. Somerset resident Charlie Casarez, 28, is one of those people.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
Local people with disabilities are learning valuable job and life skills through the ProAct program in Hudson. Somerset resident Charlie Casarez, 28, is one of those people.
ProAct’s mission is to provide life enhancing vocational and personal growth opportunities for persons with challenges and disabilities.
Vocational Specialist Kailey Singleton described ProAct as “a program that finds employment for those with disabilities as well as improving their daily lives and teaching them the skills to be independent.”
Casarez says through ProAct programs and resources he has improved his social, baking and career skills over the last year.
He credits the organization for helping him improve his customer service skills as well as learning how to make delicious homemade chocolate chip bars.
In addition to participating in group social outings, baking seminars, and career preparation meetings, Casarez says his recent three-month work experience at Econofoods in Somerset was fun and informative.
“I like to work. I like to stay busy. I don’t like sitting at home doing nothing,” he said.
Though he’d already worked in the retail and grocery industry, Casarez said the Econofoods work experience helped him improve the social and organizational skills he already had.
He’s hoping he’ll be able to use those skills to help him find a job at an area business stocking shelves, finding auto parts or washing dishes.
Singleton said the three-month work experience serves as a job assessment for staff to evaluate what clients are doing well and what areas need improvement.
“We set them up at a place that is somewhere where they would like to work, and we assess their skills as far as what they’re capable of doing, what they need to improve on, etc. That helps us determine where we can find them a permanent job in the future,” she said.
Wages for the work experience are paid by the Wisconsin Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and a job coach checks to ensure clients are performing their required duties.
The key elements of the pre-vocational and supported employment program are assessment, job development, job training, job coaching and community employment.
Singleton said ProAct offers a plethora of job resources to its clients.
“We help them find jobs. We teach them basic job skills like how to fill out an application, how to act in an interview, how to be professional, what to wear to an interview and how to dress for work,” she said.
Other resources and classes are available to educate clients on topics such as personal life, active lifestyle, healthy eating and community connections.
“We try to get them out in the community as much as possible. Community integration is one of our main goals,” Singleton said.
ProAct of Hudson
ProAct’s clients have a range of disabilities and special needs. The organization currently has clients with Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman syndrome and traumatic brain injuries.
Presently, the Hudson office has 23 regular clients who attend classes and day programs at the facility, located at 1202 Beaudry Blvd., Hudson, on a weekly basis.
Individuals living with special needs from New Richmond, Somerset, River Falls and the surrounding area have access to the free program.
ProAct is headquartered in Eagan, Minn. and the non-profit’s primary service areas include the Minnesota counties of Dakota, Goodhue, Ramsey, Hennepin, Wabasha and Washington, as well as Pierce and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin.
Casarez said he would recommend ProAct to anyone with special needs looking to enhance their life and career skills.
For more information about the Hudson ProAct program, call 715-410-4216 or go to www.proactinc.org.