My job in "real life."
In April 2004, I started a new career as a community access aide and job coach to persons with disabilities. Up until September 7, 2012 I was employed by Todd Steven & Associates (TSA) who provides community assistance and job coaching to persons with physical, emotional, cognitive, and developmental disabilities. These are people ranging from mild autism who need a little guidance and supervision to those with severe CP or MS who need assistance with feeding and changing. Through this work, I have been able to help disabled people realize the joys of life many of us take for granted... holding a job and being productive members of society, going to the shopping mall, going to a fast food restaurant for lunch, having an enjoyable swim at the local YMCA or community swimming pool, going for a walk in the park, going to the movie theater. These are all things that until recent years were completely inaccessible to many disabled people. Even with recent changes to overcoming the physical barriers that buildings and transportation were to these people, many of them still need someone to be there with them. Families are not always able to provide all of it and institutions and group homes are certainly limited to how much social activity and job support they can provide to their residents.
Through our assistance, these people have been able to become more independent and productive members of society, taking a huge load off of tax payers, families, and home staff onto themselves with just a little assistance.
It is hard work, emotionally challenging and not always "fun" but it is very rewarding at the end of the day when you get home knowing that you have enhanced a few lives today and taken a bit of the load off of society by allowing someone the opportunity to carry themselves as much as their limits allow.
There is nothing like caring about someone that other people try to avoid because they are "odd" or too much to deal with. In a very short time, I have developed a deep respect for and devotion to these people.
In early September 2012, I accepted a new position with Lakeside Packaging Plus where I will be providing all of the same services and then some. Working with TSA I have seen the impact that Lakeside Packaging Plus has been making in the lives of many people. It was a tough decision to leave TSA and move on to LPP mainly because I will dearly miss some of the staff and customers I worked with. Nonetheless, I am very excited about this new phase in my career and happy I will still be working with many of the same people in a slightly different setting.