Bellevue Council praises program that provides jobs for people with disabilities

City program employs 8 people across 6 departments.

Inside Bellevue City Hall, eight employees bustle across six city departments, feeling a sense of pride for serving their community.

These individuals with disabilities were recognized, along with the program that supports their work, during the Bellevue City Council’s March 19 meeting.

Bellevue’s Supported Employment Program was recognized for providing citizens with disabilities the opportunity to work at the city. The initiative began in 2016 under the city’s Human Resources Department and the Diversity Advantage Initiative. The city currently employs eight supported employees across six departments including the city attorney’s office, finance and parks and community services.

Human Resources Director Joy St. Germain explained that while the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 helped to improve inclusion and access, there is a still a barrier for employment of people with disabilities. Supported employment initiatives, she said have been shown to be an effective way to create community jobs for people with disabilities.

Kritsin Headlee, talent acquisitions and staffing analyst, said the first supported employee was hired in October 2016 and since then the program has grown to eight employees.

“Supported employment positions have been customized to highlight the skill set of these candidates while meeting the city’s business needs and improving work efficiencies,” she said.

The Bellevue program has also received several awards and recognition. Headlee said the program was a nominee for the 2017 employer of the year by the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

Puget Sound Personnel, a Bellevue business that operates as a supported employment agency, thanked the city for the work they have done together and introduced Jesse Gillman, one of the eight supported employees at the city.

Gillman, who works as an aide at the city attorney’s office, thanked the council for supporting the program that has allowed him to build a career.

“I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to build a career and contribute in a meaningful way,” he said. “I like what I’m doing and I like my coworkers … I’m excited to be learning new skills and I’m happy to contribute to the city of Bellevue.”

Gillman’s parents, Jeff and Marcy, also spoke to the council about their appreciation for the program.

“Through your support you enable so many like our son, to be actively engaged in the life and vitality of our community,” Jeff Gillman said. “You provide not only the opportunity to work, but the opportunity to contribute in ways that remind them that they are important in ways that remind them that they are important and worthy members of our city.”

Council approves vacation of SE 20th St.

During the meeting, the council also voted to approve the vacation of a portion Southeast 20th Street to an adjacent property owner.

The council held a public hearing on the requested vacation of a portion of Southeast 20th Street, which is adjacent to 1858 128th Avenue Southeast. In September 2017, the city received a petition from property owners to vacate 2,259 squarefeet of the right-of-way next to their property. The property owners want to increase the potential for a potential subdivision of the property in the future.

No public comment was heard at the hearing, but the council did ask staff a few questions. Mayor John Chelminiak confirmed with staff that the property could only be divided into two lots, even with the additional property. He also asked about the compensation for the property to which staff clarified that the area would be appraised and would be priced at a full market value.

The council unanimously approved a motion to move forward with the street vacation. Staff will begin working on the legislation and will return to council with an ordinance to vacate at a future meeting.