By Renee Larr
Noblesville resident Jennifer Bolander has worked at her job at Taco Bell for 24 years.
In a time where people change jobs as often as their clothes, her tenure is quite impressive but for other reasons, as well. Bolander has attended Janus Developmental Services in Noblesville for the past 24 years.
JDS specializes in assisting adults with developmental disabilities in every day life tasks. They focus on providing their clients with training on how to find a job, how to interview for a job and how to maintain the job once they have it.
Bolander is one of JDS’s longest clients and greatest success stories. She came to JDS’s Community Employment program in 1992 with the hopes of getting a job and making friends while bettering herself as a person.
“That’s the goal when someone comes through vocational rehabilitation when they want a job working in the community,” said Becke Nauyokas, an employment specialist at JDS. “It’s a process. We meet with them, find their likes and dislikes. Then we develop a plan. From there, we do some job development.”
In her time washing dishes at Taco Bell, Bolander has become quite the model employee and is well known by her customers.
“I like working there because I get to say hi to my friends,” she said.
It seems the admiration is a two-way street. In 24 years, there have never been complaints from a supervisor or co-worker. In fact, they all sing her praises.
“She’s always very friendly and smiling,” said Christine Bolton, Bolander’s manager. “She will remember any employee’s name that she’s worked with in the last (24) years. We have a lot of people that come in as customers that used to work here years ago, and she still remembers their name to this day. She’s really well known around Noblesville. A lot of our customers ask about how she is doing.”
The job gives Bolander independence and a sense of purpose.
“It’s just a big part of her life. That chunk every day where she knows she’s needed and has somewhere to go and something important to do,” said Janine Cowell, Bolander’s former job coach.
Bolander says she enjoys working and is saving her money for a noble reason. When asked why she was saving, she said, “I save it to help my parents out.”
Although she no longer needs a full-time job, employee coaches at JDS still check in with her manager to ensure everything is going well at work.
“We do pop in from time to time to see how everything is going,” Nauyokas said. “For example, if Taco Bell wanted her to learn some new tasks we would go in and assist her in learning those new tasks.”
In addition to working, she still attends JDS two days each week. When she arrives, she mostly works on art projects and socializes with her friends. Her artwork is sometimes taken home, but is also sold at an art shows to benefit JDS.
When she’s not working or creating pieces of art she says she enjoys riding her bike, playing games on her tablet and taking walks.
The organization has certainly helped Bolander achieve her dream of having a job, but Cowell credits another group for her success.
“She has a great support network at home with her mom and dad but also with a group of friends that get together at each other’s houses and do things together. She’s just a very well-rounded person,” Cowell said.
Bolander said she feels grateful to those at Janus who assisted her in getting her job all those years ago.
“I like having my job,” she said.
For more, visit janus-inc.org.
Janus Community Luncheons
Each month, Janus Developmental Services hosts a community luncheon. These free luncheons allow community members to visit and tour the JDS facilities and learn about the programs and services the organization offers.
This month’s luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 17 at the JDS campus, 1555 Westfield Rd., Noblesville.
For more or to RSVP, contact Joanne McDonough at 773-8781, ext. 112.