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Jim Halpin Retires After 36 Years

“When you work with someone your entire career, it’s difficult to say good-bye,” admitted Rob Martin in reference to Jim Halpin’s pending retirement. “Jim was one of the first people I hired back in 1981, just one year after Chinook opened its doors.“

The relationship between Rob Martin and Jim Halpin is a combination of respectful professionalism and brotherly love.

Rob recalled how the 36-year partnership began, “Jim answered an ad in the paper for a night janitorial supervisor position but I hired someone else instead….BIG mistake.” When the first person hired didn’t work out, Rob called Jim and asked if he was still interested. Fortunately, Jim was. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“I knew I was second runner up,” quipped Jim, “and I have never let him forget that!”
In a recent interview, Rob and Jim recalled some of the changes they’ve seen over the years including those responsible for expanding Jim’s responsibilities to the current title of ‘Assistant Director.’
The first of those occurred in 1982, only one year after Jim was hired. Changes in two government programs necessitated the expansion of Jim’s responsibilities to include the oversight of sheltered workshops and community employment.

Jim Halpin Retirement Photo

In 1985, Jim was instrumental in helping shift Chinook’s placement strategy from one of ‘train, then place,’ to ‘find a job, match the job to the person, then train the person to the job.’ That shift of mindset and procedure was transformative for the organization and largely responsible for Chinook’s ongoing success today.

In 1989, Jim attained a Masters Degree in Adult Education from Western Washington University at night while working at Chinook by day. The education was beneficial in helping Jim learn how to analyze program success strategies, measure outcomes objectively, and manage a growing staff.

“Jim has invested his entire career in developing opportunities for others,” stated Rob, referring to Chinook’s record of finding more than 1,000 jobs for disabled people since program inception. “The icing on the cake is that some of those original placements are still going strong.”

Internally, Jim and Rob worked together on a multitude of programs to also create job opportunities within Chinook itself. Grounds Maintenance and Assembly Services are two programs that still thrive today and provide a living wage for many.