When Melissa Johnson interviews candidates for employment opportunities at the Holiday Inn – South County Center, she looks for people who are willing to go above and beyond for guests.
In working with Johnson the past year to place candidates, Places for People Employment Specialist Kas’Quri Wren believes that Johnson and the other managers at the Holiday Inn go above and beyond for the people she serves.
“I feel like she is compassionate toward the people we provide care for,” Wren said of Johnson. “She believes in our mission. She believes in providing a place of work opportunities for all abilities.”
Johnson’s philosophy is, “Everybody needs to be given a chance, an opportunity and see where it goes from there.”
Johnson has worked at Holiday Inn – South County Center for the past 17 years. She started at the front desk and worked her way to her current role as HR and Accounts Payable Manager nearly 11 years ago. She said she enjoys working with others and watching them grow.
Johnson calls the relationship with Places for People a win-win. “You’re helping people find jobs and we have jobs available.”
Employment specialists at Places for People, like Wren, provide individual placement and support to help people living with mental illness and substance use disorders gain and maintain competitive jobs. A key tenet of this evidence-based practice is not only assisting job seekers (before and after gaining employment), but also assisting employers.
Currently, two people served by Places for People work at the Holiday Inn – South County. One rides public transportation for 90 minutes to report to work.
Gaining and maintaining employment empowers people living with mental illness and substance use disorders, and is a valuable way to connect socially. That holds true at Holiday Inn. “Within this building, it’s like a little family,” Johnson said. “They create relationships with others here.”
Employment can help provide meaning beyond a paycheck, Wren said. “It adds to the quality of life … you have something to do. You’re getting up, someone is expecting you. You’re feeling needed. You’re feeling wanted. You’re feeling valued.”
Working together with supportive employers like Johnson and the Holiday Inn – South County makes that possible.
“Melissa goes the extra, extra mile to truly make sure our people are successful.”