IPS Assistance Doesn’t End with Job Placement

Anthony Habjanic completes a task on his work to-do list at Hartsell Funeral Home in Albemarle.

Anthony Habjanic takes pride in maintaining a clean and safe environment for visitors and staff at Hartsell Funeral Home in Albemarle. At the beginning of each shift as a custodian, he secures a printed to do list of what needs to be done and works diligently to complete tasks during his shift.

Habjanic, 24, who is diagnosed with autism spectrum and bipolar disorder, secured the role at Hartsell in January 2020 with the assistance of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services through Monarch’s Enhanced Services in Stanly County. When Habjanic initially began looking for employment in late 2019, Monarch’s IPS staff assisted him with honing his job search skills such as interviewing and the application process.

IPS is a person-centered, behavioral health service with a focus on employment, that provides assistance in choosing, acquiring and maintaining employment within the community. Habjanic also receives mental health services through Monarch.

Today, Habjanic is thriving, enjoys his job and is grateful that accepting a new job didn’t mean an end to Monarch’s employment services.

He is paired with Employment Peer Mentor Angela Simpson, who is part of the IPS team, and they have been meeting since February. The pair discuss how to best navigate the workplace environment and a variety of life situations especially during the pandemic. “We do role-playing exercises on how he could respond to certain workplace situations,” Simpson shared. “Part of what we do through IPS is not walking away because a person supported has the job but to continue to address and eliminate barriers to employment and maintaining a job.”

Employment Peer Mentor Angela Simpson meets with Anthony Habjanic.

As a peer mentor, Simpson has the opportunity to share her lived experiences with mental health and substance use disorder with people supported and enjoys watching them succeed. “He is doing so well and I enjoy our conversations. I am proud of how well Tony is doing in his job and handling the responsibilities of employment,” Simpson remarked.

Habjanic said he finds completing tasks fulfilling and appreciates the Hartsell staff. “For me, it is easy and everyone is nice, kind and considerate,” he said. “My job is fulfilling. I get up every day and I go somewhere. I get something done and help the funeral home keeping it nice and tidy. What I do helps others even if it is small.”

Habjanic said that working at a funeral home has sparked an interest for possible future career opportunities in the mortuary field. He has taken some college classes in the past but without a specific major in mind. Gifted in a variety of art mediums, he enjoys drawing, painting and sculpting in his spare time.

Josh Rich, general manager at Hartsell, considers Habjanic a part of the funeral home’s team and believes his enthusiasm and spirit are the perfect addition to the staff. “We pride ourselves at being a business and being part of the community and Tony is part of that community,” he said.

Posted on: Friday May 28, 2021