Mark Schilling: A Supported Employment Success Story
Mark’s journey in Supported Employment
Everyone’s experienced some unexpected twists and turns in 2020 with the pandemic. Including record unemployment rates and state issued mandatory stay-at-home orders. Additionally, some had pre-existing challenges finding employment. For example, at the beginning of the year, Mark Schilling was transitioning to living outside of prison. He said, “I was fresh out of prison in a new area. I felt lost and didn’t know which way to turn.” Prior to enrolling in the Supported Employment program, Mark walked-in to multiple businesses inquiring about part-time work. He did not get the responses he’d hoped for.
Mark thought his age and his legal history were preventing him from the life and career he wanted. Therefore, he sought out support to find work. Mark actively works with the Lifeline Connections’ Supported Employment services where his motivation to gain competitive employment right away paid off. He works at the Recovery Café Clark County as a COVID-19 Monitor and Maintenance Worker. Mark’s job is to provide deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire facility, monitoring individuals coming in and going out of the building and support with maintaining and repairing functions of the facility.
Supported Employment Specialist, Moriah Gonzales assisted Mark with learning pre-vocational skills and job development. She said “Mark is highly motivated to achieve his career goals. He continues to demonstrate for others what perseverance and ambition truly is.” During the job search phase Mark said, “I felt more motivated and you helped me with my resume and becoming more self-confident. I came to the program feeling beat down in my 60s and didn’t know what to do. The steps that we took made me feel more confident and gave me a desire to want to get out and do something to better myself.”
Persistence pays off
Mark’s consistent drive led him into a part-time job in a peer recovery environment, which he claims to be his favorite aspect about this job. Since this new job Mark expressed “I feel grateful to be able to work with other people who are also in recovery. I have a chance to build new skills. I even got to attend a Recovery Coach training series with my employer.” Mark worked in auto sales prior to becoming incarcerated. He is discovering a new career interest now at his new job.
“The thing I loved about being a car salesman was the people and helping them. I think that’s why I enjoy this job more because I get to work in an environment where we are all supporting each other and growing together,” he said. When asked what his friends and family think of this job Mark said, “They think it is great and wonderful. I talk with my daughter all the time on the phone and talk to her about my job. She is really proud of me and we have a great relationship.”
Since starting a new life, Mark has accepted this job with genuine gratitude and it’s an important step toward his long-term recovery goals. Mark described his future career goal, “I really enjoy getting to welcome members into the café. I feel like I have an important duty during this pandemic to maintain a clean and safe environment where people feel comfortable. I get to take on various maintenance tasks. Although I don’t know exactly how long the Café will need a COVID Monitor, I think my future is within the recovery industry from now on.”
What can others learn about Supported Employment?
Mark would like others to know something. “I feel like I started out with an institutionalized mindset and was overwhelmed trying to find work. But when I joined the Supported Employment program I felt relieved and I was being met where I was at. The weekly support, encouragement and professionalism really helped. I also received lots of support from the Recovery café and other community members and workers. Now that I am working, I have a new song in my heart.”