Contributed by Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati
Ask him about his childhood or his time in school, and Eddie is tight-lipped. He remembers very little of his childhood, and in his own guarded words, “School was school.” But ask him about Easter Seals TriState, and bursts of laughter punctuate his stories.
Eddie exemplifies the path to employment for many young people with disabilities. After graduating high school, he was attracted to the structure and training offered in Easter Seals’ packaging facility, and he enjoyed the variety of tasks and the people there. After three years, Eddie was ready for the next challenge. With his energetic personality and experience, he was offered a position in Easter Seals’ Work and Grow program, a blend of paid work and recreational activities in a community setting.
Eddie was assigned to the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, where he performed facility maintenance and inventory. He worked there for five years and laughs as he declares, “I ruled that place. That place was my kingdom.”
With eight years of experience in increasingly responsible positions, Eddie was ready to pursue community employment. He was hired as a Courtesy Clerk at a local Kroger in November 2015, just before the Thanksgiving rush. “It was chaos,” he says, “but it’s really awesome.”
It’s been a great fit—the coworkers, the environment, and seeing room for advancement. He has big dreams: not only does he have his eyes on being a cashier, but he is working on two novels and a book of poetry. “I love it,” he smiles. “I just love working.”
This story was part of an Easterseals series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October.