Balancing Independence & Support
Since our community-based initiative began in 2015, the number of Triangle, Inc.’s participants working in competitive jobs has grown significantly each year. Our newest Career Pathway consists of a property maintenance team at Malden Housing Authority (MHA) and marks the first long-term job for many of the 14 individuals who are currently being trained on-site. The MHA apartment complex provides affordable and safe housing for Malden residents who have a disability, are senior citizens, or are other Section 8 participants – and all welcomed Triangle, Inc.’s team with warm smiles and open arms.
The supported employment format of this Pathway provides a crucial step in the long-term success of our participants. It bridges the gap between sheltered work and competitive employment by balancing independence with the support that ensures that every individual’s needs are met. Working at MHA is no different, though it comes with its own unique challenges and achievements.
Right off the bat, the scale of the job site was a new hurdle for both the property maintenance team-in-training and our staff overseeing them. But as the weeks went on, they found the team stepping up and were even more determined to complete their tasks with thorough patience. Beyond the quality of their work, the team conducted themselves politely and professionally, and found encouragement in unexpected places. Whether it was a resident’s praise that their home had never looked better or a member of the Maintenance Department sharing their pro tips, everyone at MHA has helped to make the site a positive and inclusive workplace where people can thrive.
Abdalla, a participant of our Transition Services program and part of the MHA property maintenance team, sat down to share more about his experience. He was already familiar with the supported employment format after working as part of a temporary painting crew at U-Haul, where he learned skills that not only translate to his job at MHA but also contributed to the confidence he brings to work. He explains, “It’s easy. U-Haul was good [practice] because I cleaned there too.” Since working with the painting crew, Abdalla has developed and honed his professional skills, moving from a small group where his work could be closely watched, to being responsible for maintaining the bathrooms on multiple floors at MHA. He takes pride in having a consistent schedule and earning above the minimum wage, two things that are instrumental in building an independent career. But for now, Abdalla is working hard and enjoying it, concluding that, “It’s a nice job, and I like getting a paycheck!”
The transition from sheltered work to a sustainable career is not a straightforward one and many individuals with disabilities face a number of obstacles when seeking competitive employment. The disability community continues to work hard for equal opportunities for professional advancement, and Triangle, Inc. is proud to work alongside Abdalla and his team as they make a brighter future for themselves and future generations. Inclusive workplaces are not created overnight, but as an organization committed to helping the world realize that we are all people with ability, it is our goal to provide support that allows our participants to build on their strengths and challenge themselves.