Leadership Award: San Diego social worker starts nonprofit to help disabled workers secure jobs

Posted at 7:27 AM, May 11, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Founder and CEO Michele Jodock started the nonprofit Vantage Point in March 2020, after spending years as a social worker and realizing a particular group of disabled workers was often falling through the cracks.

“After a while I started to notice that there was no program for the people that were considered more high functioning. People who often times have really good education, really good experience or are fresh out of college,” she says.

Disabilities can range from Asperger's syndrome to vision impairment. Julissa for example, who has a degree in human development, is also blind.

“She had tried applying for jobs on her own without much luck. Also, applying for jobs online is hard when you don't have vision,” says Michele.

Michele says Vantage Point helped Julissa prepare for the interview. They also help clients with things such as resume building, interpersonal skills and connecting to the nonprofit's employer network. Vantage Point has helped more than 100 disabled workers land jobs.

“A lot of people assume when you say people with disabilities, they really make certain assumptions and I like to try to prove people wrong,” says Michele.

She says everything about starting your own business can be hard. “In my case, securing a government contract was very challenging, it was 8 months.”

Until she secured that contract with the California Department of Rehabilitation, Michele says she invested her own money because she believes so strongly in this. Her desire to give back born in large part from her Boeing executive dad's belief in the importance of helping others.

“On the weekends when I think a lot of kids would be sleeping in or doing other things, he was like we're going to go paint the house of the homeless teen center.”

Now Michele is passing on that passion to her own kids.

“They're like, ‘When we get older after college we're going to work at Vantage Point.’ It's cute, I think they're getting it.”

Michele says the most rewarding aspect of all this is simple.

“It's every single time that I get a phone call that someone got a job.” Her goal is to get people to see disabled workers the way she does. “Everywhere we go that we see people with disabilities working in the community, I want to see mainstreamed and not abnormal. That's what I want to go for.”

Michele says this year she's looking to expand to other parts of California and then she wants to reach clients who are out-of-state.

For her dedication to helping members of the disabled community land jobs, ABC 10News and Lead San Diego are proud to select Michele Jodock as the 10News Leadership Award winner for the month of May.