Guest post: Finding community through work and art

Contributed by Ohio Valley Goodwill

Antonio Adams, like others who have difficulty expressing themselves, has a label that he carries around. Adams, however, refuses to be defined by a label. He tells his own story, in his own way, through his work and his art.

He has been successfully employed at a local restaurant in Cincinnati for more than 15 years, a position that Ohio Valley Goodwill helped him to obtain. Prior to getting a community job, Adams participated in Goodwill’s training program, which helps individuals to learn skills needed to obtain and keep a community job. It also helps individuals build self-confidence and identify their personal vocational direction.Antonio Adams final 2016

“Goodwill found me a job and an opportunity,” Adams said. “I work with a job coach, and she helps me make sure to do my work very well. Goodwill is about jobs and community for people with disabilities. I think it’s a good thing.”

Adams’ job coach provides follow-along support for him at Frisch’s restaurant. Over the years, he has grown socially, and his Goodwill job coach regularly receives employer and co-worker feedback regarding Adams’ personal development. They’ve said how he communicates well with his co-workers and supervisors, has dramatically increased his self-confidence and has more personal interaction with others, which includes making gifts for co-workers, and getting them involved in his art work and photography.

Adams said Goodwill’s job coaching department has played an important role in his life by teaching him his job duties, how to focus on work and become the valuable employee he is today. His manager said Adams is a dependable employee who is always there and does a great job.

“I love my job and I love working with my co-workers and customers,” he said, adding that he credits Ohio Valley Goodwill for helping him to achieve success in his work life.

Adams' Guardian Protectors on display. (Photo from Cincinnati Arts Association)
Adams’ Guardian Protectors on display. (Photo from Cincinnati Arts Association)

Another important part of Adams’ life is his art, and he was a founding member of Visionaries and Voices, a non-profit studio created specifically for artists with disabilities to grow personally and professionally. Adams has become quite well-known for his “outsider” art and has traveled from Cincinnati to California as a featured artist and member of the Visionaries and Voices studio group. In the years he’s been creating art, he’s switched media and turned from drawing to painting and now to commissioned paintings and sculptures.

When asked what Adams thinks about his journey with Visionaries and Voices and Goodwill over the 15 years, Adams says, “It’s like a real life.”

Goodwill’s Work Site Supports, or Job Coaching Services, provide ongoing support to individuals employed in the community for as long as they are employed. This unique service is a result of a long-time partnership between Goodwill and Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Long-term job coaching support services are provided in an effort to help individuals to maintain their employment over time.

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