Mercer County Quest serves students with disabilities ages 14 through 22 and those who support them. The resources and guidance provided for the transition to life after school, into adult life and employment are aimed to help families every step of the way.
While one in four Americans have a disability, people with disabilities are largely underrepresented in the workforce and other areas of society. This makes it challenging for students with disabilities and their families to know what life after school will look like and how to access support outside the school system.
Jacque Leverette, insurance operations manager at Leugers Insurance, experienced this firsthand as her daughter, Ramsey, transitioned from school to adulthood. “It was overwhelming to sort through all the different agencies, programs and resources we needed to prepare Ramsey for the next phase of life,” Leverette said. “It can be difficult to know where to turn for help.”
“When the local community reaches out to help, it shows students with disabilities just how wonderful life after school can and should be.”
Karen Leugers, transition coordinator, Mercer County Quest
A helping hand
Leverette was excited to learn about Mercer County Quest, a nonprofit organization that connects students with disabilities and those who support them to helpful resources and programs within their own community. Mercer County Quest shares information about vocational training programs, employment opportunities, future housing options, healthcare access, community recreation and so much more.
Having witnessed Leverette and her daughter navigate these unique challenges, Leverette’s colleagues at Leugers Insurance were also eager to get involved. While Leverette took an active role in the nonprofit’s committee, the other agency employees stepped up to volunteer in other ways. They took time out of their workday to help job coach these students as well.
“It’s so important for students with disabilities to feel supported,” said Karen Leugers, transition coordinator at Mercer County Quest. “When the local community reaches out to help, it shows students with disabilities just how wonderful life after school can and should be.”
“People with disabilities are often not given the opportunity to work, and it deprives society of their talents and gifts.”
– Jacque Leverette, insurance operations manager, Leugers Insurance
Living their values
For Leverette, the nonprofit’s goal to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities is particularly resonant. “People with disabilities are often not given the opportunity to work, and it deprives society of their talents and gifts,” she said.
As a small business employer, the team at Leugers Insurance felt they were in a perfect position to help close that gap. They worked with the Mercer County Educational Service Center and Quest to present students with disabilities job trial opportunities with a variety of tasks around the office — from bulk mailing to shredding expired paperwork. Referring to one student in particular, Leverette said, “She brightens all of our days when she’s in the office, and it’s rewarding to see how much joy she gets from her work.”
Creating a world where everyone can thrive
With the support of everyone at Leugers Insurance, Leverette looks forward to continuing to spread awareness about Mercer Country Quest and help other families navigate the transition from school to adulthood. As for Ramsey, she currently attends the Mercer County Transition Unit and recently started a part-time job working at a local grocery store. Having a job has brought Ramsey joy and a sense of purpose that she really values.
A Make More Happen Award from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safeco Insurance would allow Mercer County Quest to update their website and phone systems, create marketing materials to share with families, schools and medical providers and help fund speaker forums for the community. Help Leugers Insurance win $10,000 for Mercer County Quest by clicking the vote button. Get them an extra vote by cheering them on in the comments below.