Matthew Switzgable

Matthew providing art instruction.

Position and Wage

At Southside Art Center’s Sacramento location, Matthew works as an aide within a day program, assisting the clients and instructors of Southside Art Center (Southside). Southside provides services for adults with developmental disabilities, offering options in community volunteerism and paid employment, as well as visual and performing arts studios.

Receiving a competitive wage that is higher than minimum wage, Matthew has worked at his job, as of October 2016, for nearly two years, seven hours per day. Matthew helps clients achieve their goals: working one-on-one with a particular client (at the client’s request), or assisting other clients with their daily activities, and preparing art materials for Southside’s art instructors. When asked what Matthew likes most about his job, he responded – “I like helping clients to achieve their goals!”

Matthew further provided: “I have known people who have felt helpless and worthless due to a lack of choice or opportunity to take on responsibilities within society, including myself. When I get to help people become more independent, build career skills, gain a sense of self-reliance and feeling of accomplishment in their life, it allows me to feel the same myself.”

At work, Matthew provides a variety of services to the client for whom he provides one-to-one services, from “physical assistance to advice and instruction on his art.”

Matthew stated: “I am responsible for this client’s I.D. notes, monitoring any significant changes in health or behavior that he may express at the site, and following proper procedure for such examples. I help him plan his schedule, and more.”

When not working directly with this client, Matthew relayed: “I will assist with on-duty break monitoring; organizing and preparing materials and tools; acting as a temporary fill-in for instructors for a short amount of time, assisting clients when they need help with their projects, running errands in-house for the instructors, and many more tasks. I have also opened and run the gallery for extended holiday weekend hours.”

Acquiring Skills

Prior to acquiring this position, Matthew and his parents took the initiative to reach out to the State of California, Department of Rehabilitation, when he decided he wanted to live independently. He participated in part-time employment as a document scanner at a local department within the State of California, through an employment services provider. Matthew worked six months in this position, acquiring and fine-tuning his skills. A job coach at the employment services provider helped Matthew locate the vacant position at Southside.

Matthew also prepared for the competitive, integrated employment position he now holds by obtaining an Associate of Arts degree in Art during the time he lived in a Level IV residential facility.

Achieving Independent Livings

Matthew achieved independent living by utilizing independent living services. The support programs he participated in helped him to achieve a strong sense of accomplishment and to experience the reality of independent living.

Matthew relayed the following advice for others who are taking steps to achieve independent living: “Be firm, take initiative, stay persistent, utilize your other resources when breakdowns occur, and recognize that these are important services but are still not at the level they hopefully one day will be at. Due to this being a service with low budgeting, understaffing, and other such issues there can be delays. Ultimately, remember that they are there to help, but it is YOUR future that is impacted and ultimately YOU who needs to ensure your best interests are met. These can be very important resources in achieving personal goals you otherwise may not be able to – as long as you are ready to put in the extra effort to reach them.”

Employment Application and Interviewing

Matthew completed a paper application with the assistance of his family and his job developer. After participating in “mock” interviews with his job developer, Matthew interviewed for the position and was hired!

Foundational Employment Skills

Being courteous, dependable, and punctual are just some of the skills that employers say are important to a successful job experience. Matthew recognizes his skills as “being friendly and helpful.”

Getting to Work

Understanding reliable transportation is important to success, Matthew utilizes local public transit to ensure he arrives to work on time.

Doing the Job/Supports and Services

An experienced employee or a job coach may provide assistance to an employee when needed. Matthew receives support from a job coach, who follows up with Matthew for issues that may arise or to address concerns twice monthly.

Challenges

Matthew’s challenge was ensuring reliable transportation to work. Matthew reached out to his parents for assistance in how to address and overcome this challenge.

Long-Term Goals

Matthew’s long-term goal is to “move up.” Matthew plans to obtain his driver’s license in order to begin the steps necessary to reach his goal of promoting to an art teacher position