Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK) provides a wide-range of services to approximately 9,000 individuals annually. ISK has been able to increase service flexibility and choices for those that we serve. Please browse these photos and meet some individuals that ISK serves. Our organization and our partnering provider agencies are proud to have assisted these individuals in achieving their outcomes, realizing their dreams and desires, and improving their overall quality of life.

TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY

Tim’s story is a wonderful example of how a combination of family and professional supports can help an individual overcome a very difficult period and even change one’s life for the better. Following injuries sustained in an attack, Tim was referred to ISK for services. By working with a ISK Supports Coordinator, Tim was able to access services and supports to help him become more involved in his community.

Shortly after moving into an apartment, Tim met his wife and he is excited to say that they are approaching their first wedding anniversary. Tim also worked with an employment training specialist to launch his own soda vending machine business which has grown to 3 machines at different community businesses. At the encouragement of his wife and her family, Tim has become very active in his church which was something he had long held an interest.

“Everybody knows my name. They accept me for who I am,” said Tim. Tim has maintained a positive attitude about how his life has changed over the last 3 years. “My life is going perfect, how I want it,” said Tim. “Everything turned out good.”

Tim with 1 of his soda vending machines.

RAKIYTA’S SWEETS AND TREATS

Starting a business can be a daunting task, but it was a goal of Rakiyta’s and one that she accomplished. “Rakiyta’s Sweets and Treats,” a vending machine business, was recently launched in the Kalamazoo area after a good deal of research and hard work. Working with her supports coordinator, an employment training specialist, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Rakiyta composed a business plan and applied for a business license.

She currently owns one vending machine and has plans to expand her business after she learns the ins and outs of the local market. Rakiyta loves running her own business and seeing that all her hard work has paid off.

Rakiyta at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of her vending machine business.

ENJOYING RETIREMENT BY SERVING OTHERS

After he retired from his long-time job at Hardings Market, Holitan wanted to stay active in his community. Working with his Supports Coordinator, Holitan explored community volunteer opportunities until he found one he loves: calling the weekly bingo game at a local nursing home. One of the aspects that makes Holitan’s story even more inspiring is that he is legally blind.

Holitan knew this was the volunteer opportunity for him so his Supports Coordinator helped Holitan locate braille bingo call numbers to bring to the weekly game. Holitan loves to be able to help at the nursing home by calling bingo and interacting with the residents. Holitan as been hiring his employees directly through Self-Determination for several years and this is one of many ways he has been able to access and become more involved in his community.

Holitan calling bingo at a local senior center.

SELF-ADVOCATE’S PERSISTENCE PROVIDES CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHER INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Joshuah has always been fascinated by computers. A self-described “whiz kid,” Joshuah has been working with computers since he was four years old. His love for technology continued into high school, where he enrolled in a class in network administration during his junior year. Initially faced with resistance from school administration, Joshuah and his father advocated for Joshuah’s eventual placement into the course where Joshuah’s work earned an A+ grade for the semester.

Shortly after the class concluded, Joshuah’s father ran into the class instructor at the grocery store. The instructor, who also owns a local computer networking firm, told Joshuah’s father that his experience teaching Joshuah had helped him to better understand the capabilities of individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result, the instructor had recently hired an employee that utilizes a wheelchair, something he said he would not have done before he had Joshuah as a student. Joshuah’s self-advocacy not only resulted in his admittance to a class he found fascinating, but it also opened up opportunities for others.

Now living in his own apartment in the community, Joshuah recently began his first semester at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) where he plans on continuing his studies in information technology. After completing his studies, Joshuah hopes to work in the information technology field.

Joshuah working on an assignment for his class at KVCC.

LOVES WORKING FOR A LIVING

Mickey came to AES through a referral from MRS. He had been working with MRS for 7 years and explains that, “I didn’t need to work a part time but I like the idea of working for a living. I was in school at Traverse City and had two jobs. I moved from Traverse City and I went to MRS because the job market in Three Rivers was very poor.”

“AES took me to different places and helped me with writing a resume and a cover letter. They helped with job coaching and attendance. I’m on the right path with my attendance and no longer need job coaching.” Mickey has been working at Walmart for two years and feels that, “Working gives me self confidence that I can work.”

COULDN’T BE HAPPIER

I always wanted to help other people. I got my CNA license and started my career. I was very happy and things were going well until I was involved in an incident that got me a felony and ended that for me. When I started with AES, I had been looking for work but couldn’t find a job I liked or that paid me the kind of money I really needed. I never thought I would work as a care provider again, but AES found me a job as a chore provider. I loved it. Although the pay wasn’t that great, I was doing what I liked. It lasted for a year until my client got sick and had to be hospitalized. I immediately went back to job searching with AES. Because of the felony it wasn’t easy, but AES found me a job working as a kitchen assistant for Community Healing Center at the Gilmore site where they were willing to overlook my record and give me a chance. The pay is great and I feel like I’m doing my part to help people. They respect my abilities and I often work independently. I am very grateful to my Employment Specialist who was very determined to help me get what I wanted. He helped me in many other areas as well.

“I couldn’t be happier. Thank you AES.”