At Vicar’s Landing, we’ve always been a premier retirement community, but now we are also a public school!
The last few years have presented several challenges to industries across the board, most notably when it comes to staffing. Senior living is not immune and while investigating ways to overcome staffing challenges, we found an interesting opportunity.
The St. Johns County School District supports a Life Work Transition program for students who have met all high school graduation requirements but have deferred their diplomas to “develop the skills required for successful employment, social skills, and independent living.” Life Work is part of the county’s Exceptional Student Education department, and the mission is to transition young adults with disabilities into successful employment through vocational opportunities.
We decided to partner with Life Work and overnight, our second-floor classroom turned into a Life Work classroom. Two school buses arrive each morning bringing 15 students to our campus for class. After several hours of classroom instruction, the students are brought out into our community to work in various departments. While some students were able to work independently right away, others have been paired with a job coach. This coach shows the student what needs to be done and then supervises the work through their shift. While we are still early in the program, I quickly learned that it’s not just the students that are exceptional. The teachers are exceptional as well. I am amazed by their dedication.
While our initial goal was to develop future employees for Vicar’s Landing, as it turns out, we agree that is secondary for us now. After seeing the impact of this program on the lives of these students, we are supporting this program simply because it is the right thing to do.
I recently received a message from the daughter of one of our members, that says it best. “As the mother of a 31-year-old son with autism, I very much appreciate it when employers are willing to give a chance to individuals with disabilities. It is so hard to find places that are willing and accepting of individuals with special needs, and willing to give them a chance to learn job skills that will help them as they transition to employment and adult life. So, I just wanted to say THANK YOU…”
It is truly our pleasure.