Island agency seeks business partnerships

Service Alternatives staffers Mandi Rothman

An agency serving the island’s disabled residents is seeking new partnerships with employers.

“We’re about building community,” said Ashley Van Oeveren, area manager for Service Alternatives. “Every community member should have an opportunity to be involved. One of the best ways to be involved is having a job.”

Service Alternatives is a human services agency that provides services to the county’s disabled residents through services that include residential care for adults with disabilities, community employment assistance, foster care services, training and development.

Van Oeveren said partnerships with potential employers is key to integrating the disabled into the community.

“We work with people with disabilities and we hope to find them jobs,” Van Oeveren said. “We don’t want a hand out, we’re looking for an opportunity.”

A few Oak Harbor employers already participate in the program.

Gary Wallin, owner of Wallin Funeral Home, said in a Service Alternatives promotional flyer that employee Thomas is a “willing worker, looking to finish his tasks completely and on time.”

Service Alternatives does not release the last names of its clients.

“At the end of his time with us, he reports back to me that he has completed his assignments and shares with me the quality of his work,” Wallin said.

Ken Merrell of Best Friend’s Veterinary Center hired Heather and was impressed with her “work ethic, independence and willingness to learn.”

“Heather is dependable, cheerful and willing to do whatever is asked of her,” Merrell said. “We are very pleased with our hiring decision and feel fortunate to have Heather on our team.”

Service Alternatives, which was started by former Peace Corps volunteers Fran Einterz and Joyce Peterson in 1983, just celebrated 30 years of service.

Service Alternatives started on Whidbey Island with a contract to serve eight adults with developmental disabilities.

These services, along with additional employment and family programs, went on to expand into Snohomish and King counties, and now stretch out into most of Western Washington.

Today the agency is staffed by more than 550 employees and contracts with more than 100 foster parents, serving approximately 800 people per day.

“They had a dream to make the world a better place through excellent work, as well as to provide opportunity for employees to make a career doing social work,” according to Island County’s Program Manager Ashley Wiley.

“We at Service Alternatives are committed to advancing the potential of our communities, customers and ourselves through exceptional service. This vision defines our purpose and is at the heart of our business.”