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North Country Community Mental Health employment programs increase access and opportunity to help businesses and workers.

Northern Michigan businesses experiencing staffing shortages may connect with employees through North Country Community Mental Health (NCCMH).

NCCMH strives to create and support local employment opportunities at businesses and organizations for people served by the agency. Its Supported Employment program provided employment services to 68 clients last year with 37 individuals being employed competitively in the community.

One heartwarming example of these is Josh Sundmacher who works at Beards Brewery in Petoskey. Read about Josh’s job here: https://www.norcocmh.org/a-perfect-fit-josh-sundmacher-thriving-at-beards-brewery/

To ensure employees are successful, NCCMH staff provide a wide range of support services, including resume and cover letter building, interview practice, job coaching, and much more.

“We can attend their first day of work or until they feel comfortable proceeding on their own,” said Lynne Pearson, NCCMH Employment Specialist. “We can provide limited rides to work and back, resources to help get transportation—such as bus fare until the first paycheck, getting the bus schedule—help with understanding their benefits to ensure they have health insurance and how working affects their Social Security Income or Social Security Disability Income.”

Pearson added, “We help find jobs in the community and also identify self-employment opportunities as well as obtaining a GED or college diploma. We strive to find a good fit for not only our clients at a business in the community but also a good fit for the businesses with our clients.”

Additionally, NCCMH’s two clubhouses – Petoskey Club and New Horizons Clubhouse in Rapid City – also support clients with transitional and supported employment positions through the clubhouse.

Employers working with NCCMH and Clubhouses include Goodwill of Petoskey; Boyne Mountain; Meijer; Gentle Winds; UPS; Audie’s Restaurant; Lowes; Home Depot of Petoskey; McDonald’s in Boyne City; Family Fare Kalkaska; Walmart in Gaylord; BJ’s in Gaylord GRBS. Inc.; Bridge Street transitional housing facility; Perry Hotel; Game Realm; Rite Aid; Pirates Cove; Toast A Go-Go; Nauti Inn Bistro; independent work endeavors, including home health care aides; floral arranging for businesses; landscaping; house painting; selling craft projects; and working as a performing musician.

In addition, some are volunteering at the Salvation Army in Petoskey and Habitat for Humanity Restore in Cheboygan.

Robin H. got her first job while she was still in high school as a bus aide. She loved working with kids and it was very hard on her when she lost this job and struggled for a while. With determination, she became employed at her current job at Johan’s Bakery in Petoskey. Robin started her work at Johan’s as a TE (transitional Employment) placement three years ago then progressed to taking on an additional independent position at the Pancake House a year ago, where she “does dish washing, puts things away, and rolls silverware; really whatever they need me to do, but mostly the dishes.” At Johan’s, Robin assembles bakery boxes and cleans that facility. “I’m learning a lot over at Johan’s – more all the time. I just did a cake order for the first time. I am excited and proud of myself! I did it without anyone’s help.”  She adds, “I love my job. It keeps me on my toes. I am learning so much. I am really productive. At the Pancake House this weekend they asked me to Hostess for the first time, and I loved it!”

Andy M., another work participant, says, “Working gives me the opportunity to get back into the work setting, have responsibility and follow a schedule. It’s good to follow instructions and get things done in a timely manner.”

“Increasing Access and Opportunity” is the 2020 theme for October’s 75th annual observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and what employment connections staff at North Country Community Mental Health (NCCMH) do every day.

NCCMH Clubhouse programs are accredited by Clubhouse International requiring compliance with the International Clubhouse Standards covering employment as a primary focus with specific requirements encompassing various types employment and coinciding supports. Transitional Employment (TE) placements are temporary, part-time jobs developed for entering the world of work. TE is unique to Clubhouse and entails work preparedness; on-site training and coaching; absentee coverage and active accountability. Many participants have successfully experienced TE as being their “bridge” to independent employment.


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