Mark Ishaug Speaks to Employers of Persons With Mental Illnesses

Mark Ishaug addresses employers who utilize Thresholds’ Supported Employment program for hiring needs at Thresholds’ Annual Employers Luncheon:

June 6, 2014

Mark Ishaug. Photo by Andrew Collings.
Good afternoon everyone. It is an honor and a privilege to be with you today.

We honor you. We give you thanks. We gave you lunch!

How was it? Your lunch was generously paid for by Steve and Jen Braverman (Communications 4 Solutions). They are not with us today, but please give them a big round of applause.

While we give you thanks and praise and lunch, you give us so much more.

You have opened your doors and your businesses and your hearts to Thresholds and our members. For that, and for you, we are eternally grateful.

For most people, employment just means a job. Employment is just a fancier, longer word for job.

But to us and our members, it is so much more.

Here’s what I think employment means, and what employment brings, to those with mental illnesses and other challenges and abilities. Of course this is a
quasi-top-ten list because many of you know how much I love my top-ten lists. And how lucky for me that EMPLOYMENT has 10 letters.

And let me warn you that this four minute speech might seem a little Pollyanna to some of you, but I am a preternaturally positive, glass half-full…okay all-full (not awful, ALL-FULL) kind of guy. So here we go.

10. Employment brings ESTEEM. A sense of self-worth, pride, and confidence. Knowledge that effort created results in a product to be proud of. Be it a pizza made (Little Caesar’s and Pizza Hut), an office cleaned (United Services and Service Cleaning), shelves stocked (Jewel Food Stores and Mariano’s), a car repaired (Jiffy Lube), or a garden tended (Tim’s Snow Plowing). E is for ESTEEM.

9. Employment brings MOTIVATION. A reason to get out of bed, get showered and dressed, get on that bus or train or in your car, and to show up with a smile. Because you know that people are counting on you. Your boss, your colleagues, your customers. Motivation comes from a place of hope and it engenders hope for a better, brighter future. M is for MOTIVATION.

8. Employment brings POWER. When we work, we stand taller. We walk with purpose. We speak with confidence. We live life with passion. We are empowered to give more, learn more and do more. P is for POWER.

7. Employment brings LOVE. I know people don’t like to use the word love in the workplace. Not me. On the contrary. I say “I love Thresholds” every day. I hear many of my colleagues, including many in this room today, tell me they love Thresholds. Love their job. Love their colleagues. Love their clients. Love that they make people happier and healthier, make a difference, change the world. Just look at this picture of one of our members at last year’s employee luncheon, and tell me he, and you, don’t feel the love! L is for LOVE.

6. Employment brings OPPORTUNITY. To better ourselves, to learn new skills, to meet new people, to grow. O is for OPPORTUNITY.

5. Employment brings YEARNING. Work is about setting goals, exceeding them, yearning to do more and better, setting the bar higher and higher for yourself. Y is for YEARNING.

4. Employment brings MONEY! We all need money. Enough said! M is for MONEY!

3. Employment brings EXCITEMENT. You never know what you will encounter at work. Like life itself, work is full of surprises. Sometimes good surprise, sometimes not so much. And this itself is exciting. Work is not just what is, but what can be. E is for EXCITEMENT.

2. Employment brings NOURISHMENT. Of the mind, body and soul. Like Thresholds programs which are designed to treat the whole person on their road to recovery, employment provides physical, mental and emotional nourishment, giving us the resources we need not just to survive but thrive. N is for NOURISHMENT.

1. Employment brings TRANSFORMATION. Individuals, families, communities and society are literally transformed by work. We will never create a country, indeed a world, rooted in freedom and justice, equity and prosperity, home, health, and hope for all without meaningful employment. T is for TRANSFORMATION.

Thank you for transforming the lives of our members. For transforming Thresholds into one of the greatest supported employment providers for persons with mental illnesses in the country. For transforming this great city and state and showing the world through your recruitment and retention of persons with mental illnesses that good employees, indeed great employees, regardless of their different abilities, are good for business and good for the bottom line.

And from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

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