FISH, Issaquah Community Network earn state award

November 5, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 8 p.m. Nov. 5, 2012

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and the Issaquah Community Network garnered a top honor for offering employment opportunities for young people with disabilities, officials announced Nov. 1.

The organizations received the Youth Employer Award from the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment. The honor recognizes the organization’s partnership to accommodate workers with disabilities, and for efforts to create a productive and inclusive workforce.

The state-level committee behind the award advises the governor, legislators and state agencies on policy affecting people with disabilities.

In recent years, students with disabilities from local school districts received paid internships at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, and helped hatchery staffers and volunteers complete important tasks.

“We are so grateful for this help. During the busy salmon season it is difficult to keep up with basic cleaning,” FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle said. “These students have been so helpful. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Students involved in the program last year later used the skills learned at the hatchery to get jobs.

FISH is the nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the 75-year-old hatchery and educating local students and hatchery visitors about Pacific salmon and local watersheds.

“The Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, working in conjunction with AtWork!, provided an exemplary training experience for youths with disabilities. The board of directors and the executive director are to be commended for embracing their roles as teachers, coaches and friends,” Issaquah Community Network Executive Director Barbara de Michele said. “Internships such as these help pave the way to full employment for all.”

The state-funded Issaquah Community Network is authorized by the Legislature to support initiatives for strong families, and healthy children and adolescents.

Leaders at AtWork! — a Bellevue-based nonprofit organization formed to help people with disabilities learn skills and find jobs — nominated FISH and the Issaquah Community Network for the honor.

Funding for the partnership between AtWork! and FISH came from a grant to the Issaquah Community Network from the state Department of Department of Social and Health Services.

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