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Kent County nonprofit helping people with special needs get jobs

Posted: 5:56 AM, Nov 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-18 05:56:59-05

LOWELL, Mich. — A West Michigan nonprofit is on a mission to give people with disabilities a chance to work and volunteer once they finish school.

While it may not seem like a big deal for some, being able to go to work every day or volunteer for an event is something people with special needs look forward to each day.

"It makes me feel happy", says Phillip Vineing who got help from Beyond 26, a Wyoming nonprofit that connects people with disabilities with jobs and volunteer opportunities.

“We’re not government funded, we are a faith based organization and we have a simple process for taking in our job seeker applications and then turning around and finding them jobs in our community," said Dirk Bakhuyzen, executive director of Beyond 26.

“I get to sweep the floor, dust the windows, and clean cabinets, mop floor, wash windows," Vineing said, who has become part of the family at Mike Curtis' Farm Bureau Insurance office.

"Phil came in probably a week later and he’s been working here ever since then," said Mike Curtis, who owns the insurance agency. "He’s been great, he brings his positive attitude to the office every day, works hard, gets his stuff done, and we get to hang out for about a half hour after work and just talk about life, so, it’s been really good for the office," he said.

"Our goal for the year was to place twenty job seekers and so far we’re, I think, at 29 or 30," Bakhuyzen said. "We’re well over our goal and next year we hope to place over 100 job seekers.," he said.

An opportunity, people like Phillip look forward to everyday, being part of society and a workplace.

“I’m working so hard, get paid every Friday," Vineing said.

"It just makes everybody be in a good mood when he’s here which in this industry it’s kind of hard to be in a good mood while we’re here working all day," Curtis said.

“Everyone looks out for each other, it’s changing their team culture, so it’s a good thing," Bakhuyzen said.

“It’s great to help these guys out and give them some work to do around the community and then they help us so much as well," Curtis said. "It’s really a win win situation so I would encourage anyone to take part."

If you are interested in a career with Beyond 26, the organization is in need of job coaches for those of you looking for a job. The best way to contact them and apply is on their website.