by Cory Cox and Courtney Reimann
Lancaster County YAP provides a variety of programs for people with disabilities, including Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism, and Intellectual Disabilities. Assistant Director Cory Cox largely oversees these programs and works closely with staff to support individuals in reaching their goals. During a recent conversation with Cory he shared two employment profiles of people who seek to live an Everyday Life-including finding meaningful employment.
Brian Rodgers is another individual who receives services through YAP. As a teenager, Brian was in an ATV accident and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. Brian finished High School and has a degree in Human Services. Brian volunteers at an Assisted Living home and would like to one day have a paid position there. However, he experiences some difficulty with memory and counting and this has made a permanent paid position just out of his reach.
Brian interviewed with TJ Maxx and tried various positions with Michaels and Bath Fitters. As described by Assistant Director Cory Cox, “Brian has spent a lot of time trying out jobs that weren’t a great fit. He was always willing to try again but through the years nothing seemed quite right.”
In his most successful job, Brian worked as holiday attendant at the Park City mall for Easter Bunny and Santa Claus events. Recently, Brian found a position at his local grocery store, Giant Foods. This job seems to have all the elements that Brian had been looking for. It is close to his home, which makes transportation easier, he feels appreciated by co-workers and management, and the job tasks are suited to his skills. His YAP Advocate, Jerry Dyson, checks in on Brian and has had discussions with Brian’s supervisor to make sure everything is going smoothly and to handle any situations before they become problems.
Currently, Brian is exploring additional volunteer opportunities including assisting with the startup of a “Lunch Bunch.” The “Lunch Bunch” would give individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who recently graduated from High School an opportunity to socially gather and participate in similar interests. This endeavor is in the beginning stages, but the plan is for Brian to use the skills acquired from volunteering at the assisted living facility to coordinate various activities for the “Lunch Bunch” program. If the “Lunch Bunch” program takes off, Brian could be hired as a paid facilitator.
An example of YAP’s flexible and diverse service options is the support provided for Colleen DeSante. Colleen lives in a community home through Acadia and YAP provides a few hours of Employment Skills Development Services each week. Colleen currently attends Acadia’s day program but sees herself someday working at a job in the community. Colleen recognizes that getting there involves learning and picking up new skills in diverse environments.
With support from her YAP staff, Erin Resch, Colleen has regularly volunteered at the Lancaster library where she practices restocking and following specific procedures. Colleen also volunteered at the Salvation Army and learned about the tasks found in a retail environment. Colleen tidied the store, stocked shelves, and put clothing back on hangers. Colleen most recently acquired a volunteer position with Community Aid, a larger, second hand store in Lancaster County.
In addition to Community Aid, Colleen continues to volunteer at Conestoga View, a nursing home in Lancaster. Colleen assists residents as they participate in various activities throughout the facility and has really taken ownership of the on-site library available to the residents by maintaining the organization and stock of available resources.
Colleen also independently volunteers at a hospital lab organizing bloodwork preparation tubes and making deliveries to various departments. At this volunteer location she has learned how to follow specific instructions for assembling kits, improving her social skills, and picking up general work behaviors like being on time and getting along with co-workers. Colleen really enjoys helping others, and would like to realize her goal of finding a paid position, possibly working in a retail store.
YAP is so proud of the accomplishments of Brian and Colleen as they embrace a working lifestyle. We also commend Lancaster County for their creativity as they work to develop existing skills and consistent encouragement and support of people they serve.