COOS BAY—Cordell Alverson is hard at work scrubbing the windows of one of the Coos Bay school district buses.
He methodically sprays the cleaning substance, scrubs the top window, then the bottom and moves onto the next row.
Three days a week Alverson comes to First Student, also known as the bus barn, and cleans the inside of the bus assigned to him that day.
On Thursday its bus 28.
To say the job is a perfect fit for him would be an understatement.
Alverson loves buses. He’s continually taking photos of them, whether that’s in the bus lot or riding Dial-A-Ride from his home in Bandon.
He belongs to Star of Hope, an organization that provides services to those with developmental disabilities. One of its services is providing job training and placement in the community.
Marla Gohn has worked at Star of Hope for more than 17 years.
She’s Alverson’s job coach- one of many hats she wears at the organization.
“I do the whole ball of wax,” Gohn said.
She said the ultimate goal is to get clients integrated community employment.
Alverson is one of the success stories of the job placement program.
“How am I doing?” he asks Gohn.
She provides words of encouragement, as well as supervision for the gregarious 32-year-old.
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“We don’t get them a job and just throw them out into the community all by themselves,” Gohn said.
Many of those placed continue to need support.
Gohn said Star of Hope started doing job placement in the last couple of years.
She said businesses are usually very receptive to Star of Hope when she goes out to find potential sites.
“A lot of employers are really great about having that extra support,” Gohn said.
One employer who’s thrilled is Alverson’s new boss.
Becki Mascarenas, location manager at First Student, hired Alverson on the spot when he came in for a interview.
A mock interview at that.
“It’s just been a great experience I guess to see someone so excited and engaged to come to work,” Mascarenas said, “So what started out as a mock, you know just helping them out so he could practice interviewing became a real job for him.”
It’s easy to see why. In the back of the bus Alverson is halfway through cleaning the windows, grinning ear to ear after admitting he’s not camera shy.
Clad in plaid, he writes the number 33 in the window with the spray cannister.
He’s got a birthday coming up.
It seems an early present was getting a job he really enjoys.