Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards Finalist Interview with Linda Chandler, CEO, Linden Resources
1. What is your mission and vision?
The mission of Linden Resources is to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities while exceeding the expectation of our customers. Founded by families seeking meaningful employment for their adult children with disabilities, Linden Resources has successfully provided employment and support services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 55 years, including career exploration, job-seeking coaching, resume and interview preparation, on-the-job training, and continuing services for the employer as well as the employee to ensure a successful work experience
We envision a world where all people with disabilities have meaningful opportunities for employment.
2. How does your organization achieve its mission?
We are committed to helping the people whom we serve create a life-long career path that will enable them to experience the joy and dignity of meaningful work. We not only provide job placement and retention services for people with disabilities and wounded warriors, we also hire them to work in our fully-equipped in-house printing department and in locations throughout the region where Linden Resources has contracts with various government agencies, including the Federal Drug Administration, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In addition, we accomplish our mission with support from wonderful business partners in the community who are committed to hiring people with disabilities. Our workforce specialists provide an array of services to ensure that the experience is one that is successful for both the employer and the employee.
3. How have your programs directly impacted the Northern Virginia Community?
The US Department of Labor, as of March, 2015, lists the unemployment rate for people with disabilities at 19.8% and for those without disabilities at 5.3%. With such a high discrepancy between the two populations, placing people with disabilities in community jobs becomes especially important. Our staff’s efforts are focused to support and empower a person’s success in a job that meets their interests, skills, and long-term employment goals. We use a person-centered approach that helps ensure an effective job match that results in sustained success and job satisfaction; as well as providing the business community with qualified candidates that meet their workforce needs. As of April 1st of this year, our job placement and Vets Ready2Work teams have placed 119 people in jobs, the vast majority of which are in Northern Virginia, particularly in Fairfax County.
4. What inspires your team to stay committed to your mission?
The Linden Resource staff is inspired daily by the people whom we serve. We know that employment is the key to self-esteem and self-sufficiency. Every individual deserves the opportunity to find meaningful work. People with disabilities who have jobs, always exceed the expectations of their employers. In fact, that inspired us to adopt as our tag line, “exceeding expectations.” With the unemployment rate for this community (people with disabilities) more than twice as high as the rate for the general population and with the demands for employment growing exponentially from veterans, we are both inspired and motivated to serve more people.
5. What advice would you give to other non-profits trying to make an impact in their community?
I can only speak for Linden Resources. For us, it is a commitment to our mission. Because we work directly with the people with whom we serve, we fully understand the “why” we do this work. We also have the joy of seeing first-hand the benefits of our various programs. There is nothing like watching a person’s face light up when they talk about their new job or to hear from a mother and father the transformation that has taken place for their adult child as a result of securing employment. We appreciate the many companies and individuals who support our mission and look forward to working with anyone who is considering expanding their staff by hiring people with disabilities and veterans.