Today we’d like to highlight two success stories from our Discovery program. Discovery is an initiative of The Arc of Pennsylvania, and funded by the Office of Developmental Programs, that helps individuals with disabilities transition into customized employment that fits the job seeker’s interests and strengths. These two stories come from The Arc of Washington County, whose staff has participated in the Discovery program’s training and certification process.
Jimmy’s job is to sort, pack, load and deliver janitorial supplies to local business and a majority of the AHS’ group homes. But Jimmy was not always a model employee. Before his job with the Distribution Center, he attended Arc Human Services’ Sheltered Workshop program. He missed days and days of work and when he did attend, the work didn’t interest him. On top of that, Jimmy was frustrated with his small paychecks, which made the situation worse. As his team discussed his employment plan, they realized the Distribution Center offered Jimmy a new opportunity. Using the skills learned from The Arc of PA’s Discovery program, his team matched Jimmy’s desire to prove his strength and his ability to left heavy items to these new job
Jimmy began working at the Distribution Center the day it opened, July 21, 2014. He was mostly non-verbal and had not previously worked in the community. During his first day he met (and hit it off with) Gene Steratore. Mr. Steratore is the owner of Steratore Sanitary Supply, the Distribution Center partner, and is a NFL referee. Jimmy and Gene have become very close, to the point where Jimmy can throw imaginary penalty flags or call Gene’s cell phone to argue a play call.
Today, Jimmy reports to work in his NFL hat, ready to head to the warehouse. A picture order form was created to assist him with his sorting tasks, allowing him to match up items by sight. He regularly works 15 hours per week and makes $10 per hour. With his increased pay, Jimmy goes to the movies, out to eat and attends live shows. The Distribution Center gave Jimmy an opportunity to succeed in a work environment and he is thriving.
Kenny Gray has worked with the AHS’ Sheltered Workshop for several years. Known as the “Big Brother”, he kept everyone (clients and staff alike) entertained with his stories about bands and discussions on music. Although Kenny was very particular about the jobs he worked on, he was always a reliable employee and worked as often as he could.
When Kenny’s team began looking at his skills and interests during The Arc of PA’s Discovery program, the team found that the Distribution Center would be provide an excellent opportunity. With Kenny’s willingness to help others and preference to work with his hands, a job sorting, packing, loading and delivering supplies to AHS’ group homes and local business matched his personality well. They were right!
Kenny was one of the Distribution Center’s first employees, starting the day it opened. On his first day, he met Gene Steratore, owner of Steratore Sanitary Supplies and Distribution Center partner. Mr. Steratore, a NFL referee, and Kenny bonded over their love of football and the Steelers. They also bonded over their love of music.
Now, every morning when Kenny arrives at the warehouse, Gene is waiting at the piano. Kenny sings while Mr. Steratore plays for all the warehouse staff so “everyone can smile first thing in the morning at work.” Kenny has continued to be wonderful, reliable employee. He works 15 per week and earns $10 an hour. As the Distribution Center expands, Kenny’s hours will increase.