Twins Nick and Olga work at Albertina Kerr's Port City employment program for people with developmental disabilities. They enjoy producing artwork and tending vegetables in the garden in the ProjectGrow program, but most of all they appreciate the camaraderie and community of their workplace. When asked how she feels about coming to work, Olga said: "I feel joy. If I stayed home, I would lay down and cry to not have ProjectGrow. I have lots of friends. I can use my talents here. Everybody helps me if I need something. They respect me."
Albertina Kerr's employment programs such as Port City and Art from the Heart, an art gallery and studio, offer people with developmental disbilities opportunities to participate in the workforce and express themselves creatively. Jobs are developed on the basis of each person's skill level and interests, empowering people to contribute to the workforce and gain a sense of accomplishment, share talents with others and develop new social relationships.
"Without these connections they are much more likely to experience a crisis or decline. Often, this may be the only opportunity that these individuals have to get out of their homes," said Chris Krenk, Albertina Kerr CEO.
At Port City, opportunities include screen printing, production work, artistic expression, urban farming and animal husbandry, woodworking and a center for people with high care and meidcal needs.
A job can be a major factor in shaping anyone's life, but at Albertina Kerr it can be lifechanging. Port City's Hilary Zust said: "For many of the people that work here, they have been institutionalized for a really long time period and don't really have a lot of community outside of here. It's important for them to have that socialization. And to earn a paycheck."