Supported employee takes pride in his work, shares joy with community
The Supported Employment Program (SEP) provides employment opportunities within King County government to people with disabilities. With an assigned job coach, and supportive supervisors and team members, participants are encouraged to fulfill their potential, pursue career goals, and thrive in a helpful environment.
One employee within the Supported Employment Program who enjoys his work and the chance to make a difference is Naveed Labib, an Office Assistant in the Transit Facilities Division of the Metro Transit Department. Naveed has been with King County since January 2018. While some of his duties include working on payroll, completing time sheets, utility billing, and filing, they have recently expanded. He now also helps other groups beyond his specific team within the Division.
“It feels good to go beyond, and be proven to be reliable and independent,” Naveed shares. “I love being productive and love working hard.”
Naveed also credits his supervisor, Jake Jacobovitch, for being a supportive and caring manager. Jake is a superintendent within the Transit Facilities Division and has been with King County overall for 36 years, and with Metro Transit the last nine years. He oversees the environmental compliance group, his division’s equity and social justice program, the safety program, and Naveed.
“Wherever Naveed goes, I go with him,” Jake explains. “I’m proud I hired Naveed. He’s developed into a wonderful person and employee.”
“Jake is an amazing superintendent,” said Naveed. “He is so supportive.”
Naveed likes completing his duties and takes satisfaction from knowing it is important, meaningful work. He explains how he’s proud to earn his keep and be on top of things, especially with his favorite task, the time sheets.
“I enjoy doing time sheets, I like to help out everybody,” he said. “Time sheets, utility billing – I enjoy working with numbers, and something I also really enjoy is knowing how others can rely on me and being dependable.”
“I tell myself each day, if I finish what I’ve needed to do and proven to others it’s another day that they can depend on me, then I feel good.”
“Naveed is very reliable. He is precise in his duties and tasks. So much so that the accuracy of his work is recognized,” added Jake.
The Supported Employment Program provides job coaches and additional support for each employee. Naveed shares how in his King County position, he has been able to gain some independence, while still knowing he has a team of supportive people in his corner.
“Initially when I started, I had support from two job coaches, and we were meeting weekly, but currently I just have one. He calls me monthly, and we talk about any issues,” he said.
Naveed has transitioned to remote work, as has the rest of the administrative team during the pandemic, and he continues to produce accurate and timely work. During this transition, he has become more independent and requires even less job coaching support.
Jake shares how he worked closely with the Supported Employment Program Manager, Christina Davidson, to recruit a full-time employee (FTE) that met the division’s business needs and ensured that both Naveed and the overall workgroup were successful.
“In 2017 leaders said we had a SEP program, and that it was a priority within Metro Transit to participate, so we identified a body of work and completed interviews with different candidates, then chose Naveed,” he said.
“There was a big emphasis to make it a success, so we worked with SEP staff and Naveed’s job coach to ensure we would be successful.”
Naveed explains his journey to getting his role at King County. He first got involved with supported employment about 12 years ago through the King County School-to-Work Transition Program, where young adults with disabilities are connected with jobs based on their interests and skills.
“I worked at a library, Trader Joes, and other places, but out of all of those jobs I enjoy working at King County the most,” said Naveed. “I enjoy working with people the most, and I have an amazing superintendent who is always looking out for my best interests.”
In addition to his work at King County, Naveed also stays busy in his free time. He has received his Associates and Bachelor’s degrees, regularly completes adventurous, long-range walks, holds a part-time job, and also works at Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane during the holiday season.
“I recently started working part time at CVS Health as a retail associate, working the cash register, stocking items, and checking out customers,” he said. “And also, during the holidays I work at Snowflake Lane in Bellevue as a reindeer. It’s a beautiful job and it keeps me happy.
“I get to dress up and walk down the streets every evening, waving at the audience, and have pictures taken. I love it.”
The Supported Employment Program has been a rewarding experience for Naveed and Jake, one that they both strongly recommend other workgroups consider, and are grateful King County has made the effort to develop it.
“It’s important that people with a disability are given paid opportunities to develop their skills and interests,” said Naveed. “It’s important to broaden their knowledge about different positions they could do as well as expand their communication skills through work experiences with their fellow employees. I feel like this helps each person understand more about themselves.”
Jake adds the Program is a great way to help adults with disabilities find a workplace that suits them and is willing to work with them.
“There are many people with disabilities that can do the work, but they can’t navigate through the system. Not just at King County but everywhere,” Jake said. “This initiative is a good one to give opportunities to individuals who may need help in applying to ensure it’s a good fit and to be successful.”
Jake and Naveed hope that by sharing about their positive experiences with the Supported Employment Program at King County, they can inspire others with disabilities to know that there is a place for them, with supportive, caring colleagues and dedicated support staff.
“It’s important for the general public to know about this program, to find the resources they need and help young adults with disabilities to find a job and see their options,” Naveed said. “We want to encourage more people to come work for King County.”