Originally founded in 1980 as the International Association of Machinists Center for Administrating Rehabilitation and Employment Services, Cares of Washington provides effective, high quality services to individuals with disabilities in our region. By 2000, the organization had become a multi-state employment service agency, headquartered in Washington, D.C. In 2002, the Seattle office merged with Independent Employment Services, expanding operations to Tacoma and Bremerton. National programming ceased in 2003 and the Seattle operation became an independent agency, Cares of Washington, expanding services to include low-income individuals. In addition to our main office in Seattle, we now have offices in Tacoma, Port Orchard, and Monroe to better serve our clients and their employers. Cares is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
Mission Statement & Purpose
Cares of Washington’s mission is to provide tailored opportunities for people with disabilities and low incomes to become self-sufficient, creating individualized paths to economic self-sufficiency.
Cares combines career coaching, financial skills education, vocational and educational training, support services, and job placement into a cohesive plan for each client, mitigating barriers to employment and maximizing each person’s potential for independence. Cares firmly believes that it is simply not enough to just help someone find a job, any job. We emphasize jobs with career pathways and the potential for advancement, benefits, and living wages for every client that walks through our doors.
We recognize that solely getting someone a job also is not enough. Some individuals need additional coaching, others need help obtaining clothing suitable for work, some need help with transportation, and still, others need help making and living on a budget. To address these and other needs, we work closely with community partners to coordinate services and resources, building a network of support for each client.
From the CEO
Cares’ ongoing focus on learning and being able to adjust to change are the two main reasons that we as an organization continue to move forward and provide effective and lasting outcomes. Our goal is to be a community leader in creating jobs for people with and without disabilities that lead to self- sufficiency. We are a community minded, people-centered organization, and we set high expectations for our employees. Each employee takes the responsibility to follow and use efficient and creative yet flexible and agile strategies and procedures to reach the planned goals for each person. Our commitment to continuing employee education and engagement drive the success of everything we do, leading to positive results and services that are valuable to our clients. During this last years many changes, be it political, economically, internal staff changes, State policy or personal challenges and growth Cares employees have maintained their focus on continuous high quality work, leading to improvement in our reporting systems, a higher rate of job placements and other achievements you will read about in this report. We are proud of the impact we make year after year in all of the communities we operate. With a strong focus on quality, responsibility and reliability we will continue to create more jobs for people who face significant barriers to employment. With each and every person we prepare, place and support on their unique journey to self- sufficiency, we hope to set an example for how one can effect positive change by promoting responsibility, resiliency and hope through education, skill building and a career. By focusing on trust and people’s abilities—what each of us can do—we support an inclusive community that embraces life and all the changes that come with living.
- Lars Nowack, CEO
Cares of Washington is governed by a 6-member board of directors. We employ 26 full-time and 2 part-time staff.
Board of Directors
Jason Norlin | Chair, Microsoft Services
Riley Barton | Vice Chair, Community Psychiatric Clinic
Jackie Ernst | The Ostara Group
Donavan Lam | Treasurer
Karl Tobey | Everything Paralegal
Gena Bomotti | Riddell Williams
Who We Are
Lars Nowack | CEO
Lars Nowack has extensive and varied experience in the non-profit sector and over the last 17 years has lead 2 different organizations through multiple transitions, mergers and growth. He specializes in collaborative solutions, and community outreach. Over the past ten years, Nowack has developed and coordinated over $18 million in foundation, local, state, federal grants and social venture funding.
Nowack holds a B.A. in Counseling from Depaul University and a Marine engineering degree from Esbjerg Marine engineering college in Denmark. He is active in community service, serving on various boards and is a passionate believer in the equal opportunity for all citizens to be self-sufficient.
An avid biker, hiker, ultimate Frisbee and soccer player, Lars lives in Seattle, WA and enjoys sharing the benefits of a vibrant city culture and the natural beauty that Washington State has to offer with his two children, friends and family.
Wendy Ehr | Director of Employment
Wendy Ehr started her path to employment services in her education at Lewis & Clark State College and Western Wyoming State College, where she studied Psychology and Special Education. She transitioned from education to her step into the field of working with people with disabilities working at a agency in Lewiston Idaho providing community services for individuals with disabilities for 6 years.
In 1997, Ehr moved to Eastern Washington and started working for a agency Tri-Cities Residential Services. Then, in 2011, she started with Cares of Washington in as an Employment Support Specialist and moved to a managerial role.
In Wendy's leisure time, she enjoy traveling with her husband, as well as breeding, showing and working with her awarding-winning horses.
Kimberlee Danielson, Employment Support Specialist
Marissa Murphy, Employment Support Specialist
Vanessa Schmeltz, Employment Placement Specialist
Susan Whitelock, Employment Support Specialist
Greg Yamada, Employment Support Specialist
Mararti Genene, Employment Support Specialist
John Lee, Employment Placement Specialist
Jared Sand, Employment Support Specialist
Ana Unpingco, Employment Support Specialist
Caitlin Wigre, Employment Support Specialist
Tammette Chitwood, Employment Placement Specialist
Sara Andersen, Employment Support Specialist
Sonya Denchel, Employment Placement Specialist
Janet O’Connell, Employment Placement Specialist
Eric Ijie, Employment Placement Specialist
Linda Mendiola, South Team Manager
Rosie Hawkins, Employment Placement Specialist
CindyLu Webber, Employment Placement Specialist
Sean Woods, Employment Placement Specialist
Sue Koeller, King County
Nancy Engh, Pierce County
Ticket to Work (TTW)