2015-2016 AHEDD Success Stories
Nathan’s Passion for Fitness Inspires Others
“If Nathan is not an example for you, then I don’t know what is,” praised Malou McIntire. McIntire, General Manager of Planet Fitness on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township, participated in the interviewing and eventual hiring of Nathan Knaub in April 2015 as a fitness instructor.
“I have always seen Nathan for his capabilities, knowledge and passion for fitness,” added Mc-Intire, “and, talking to (Planet Fitness) members, they see Nathan as motivational.”
Nathan has a blood clotting disease and in 2008 suffered a stroke at the young age of 23, leaving him with some neurological damage - as well as mobility and dexterity limitations on his left side.
Recalling his road to recovery, Nathan said, “At the time, my rehab process was brutal – and I was very fit at the time, meaning I was used to working out in pain. I suppose I was lucky to have had a stroke so young. If it happened in my 50’s it might have killed me.”
Now 32, Nathan works full-time, six days a week, as a fitness instructor at the gym. “I love it,” he says beaming, “I enjoy helping people and I get to keep myself in shape.” On his own time, Nathan works out one-and-a-half to two hours a day. He says he has leg pressed up to 1000 pounds and bench pressed 300 pounds!
Nathan Assisting a Customer
“Nathan is very driven. His disability serves as a motivational factor because there are no excuses for anyone after seeing him” said Mc-Intire, adding, “I have seen him do everything. He helps all customers.”
One of Nathan’s first and most regular customers is Temuljan Greaves, known as TJ to his friends. The 51-year-old retired trucking company owner works out at Planet Fitness five days a week, Monday through Friday, and says he purposefully comes during Nathan’s “slower times, so he can provide me with his full attention for 30-minutes. I’ve been with Nathan since I started here at the gym.”
Nathan first sought employment services from AHEDD under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket to Work (TTW) program in 2013. AHEDD assisted Nathan in his search to find the right job. As a participant in the TTW program, AHEDD also provided Nathan with the services of a Community Partner Work Incentives
Counselor (CPWIC). This Counselor helped him to understand how his earnings might impact his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Nathan says his cash SSDI benefits have now stopped and he’s agreeable to this change. He understands his earned income has increased and he’s “happy to be financially independent again!” Nathan also knows if his earnings drop below $1,130 /month in gross pay (Substantial Gainful Activity- SGA in 2016), his SSDI cash
benefit would kick back in.
For information on TTW, please visit: www.chooseworkttw.net. AHEDD is an Employment Network authorized by SSA to manage TTW. Applications can be found on
AHEDD’s web site ... CLICK HERE
Jeromy Finds His Voice and a Job
AHEDD first met Jeromy in February of 2015 at the Intermediate Unit 29 in Schuylkill
County to put together a Plan of Service with his parents and himself. Jeromy has Autism and initially was not verbally communicating with AHEDD staff. Due to this lack of verbal communication, his employment goal was set by his parents.
Within a few weeks AHEDD took Jeromy to the Lowes Distribution Center (DC) in Pottsville so he could be assessed for some of the jobs there and gain a first hand experience in that kind of environment. They had to pay close attention to his facial expressions and body language as he performed the work. Jeromy displayed the ability to be taught a job and then perform it without error. Jeromy and AHEDD visited the Lowes DC multiple times prior to his graduation. The goal was for Jeromy to develop a certain comfort level within this workplace before he graduated from high school and started working.
In June of 2015 Jeromy started working 20 hours a week at this Lowe’s DC. During
Jeromy`s probationary period, he performed well with no errors, but was not reaching the required production level of 100%; He was only achieving an average of 85% each week. Jeromy was still not communicating verbally.
Since Jeromy would not be offered a permanent position due to performance, both
AHEDD and Jeromy`s parents agreed that he should stop working at Lowe’s prior to the end of his probationary period.
David Hits Jackpot Working at Casino
David came to AHEDD in 2015 for employment services under an Expansion Grant from the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). This expansion grant was awarded to AHEDD so the agency could help more individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to find employment within Southeastern PA.
David secured a full-time position for 11 dollars an hour with AHEDD’s assistance in
April of 2016. In his role as casino attendant in the Environmental Services Department at SugarHouse Casino, David cleans slot machines, collects trash, maintains the restaurant areas and restrooms and keeps the floor swept.
During his interview process with SugarHouse, he stood out due to his friendly personality and positive attitude. His manager, Marino, as well as his supervisor, George, continue to be impressed with David. David is able to communicate with others through gesturing and writing notes back and forth. He’s even taught his co-workers some American Sign Language.
AHEDD has been helpful to both the employer and David by assisting with the coordination of an interpreter during important discussions (e.g. employee benefits), helping everyone to understand how to best address the everyday communication
challenges with co-workers and customers, and assisting David in reporting his earnings to the Social Security Administration (SSA). David stated, “I love the teamwork associated with my job and the new experience that SugarHouse has offered me.”
Jeromy and AutoZone Teammates
AHEDD then assisted Jeromy to obtain a job at the Auto Zone DC in Hazleton, working 20 hours a week in their “returns/recalls department”. Since September 2015, Jeromy has been working at Auto Zone DC and has been processing multiple products returned from the Auto Zone stores for re-distribution. Jeromy, as he has performed in the past, continues to commit no errors in his work in a department that is not production driven but focused on accuracy.
Jeromy`s co-workers at the Auto Zone DC have also been a great support system for him. They provide him with daily guidance on various tasks and remind him to take his scheduled break.
Since Jeromy was 18 yeas old and a Social Security beneficiary, AHEDD provided this employment support to him through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket to Work Program. This SSA program will allow AHEDD to provide Jeromy with the long term support he will need to maintain his success and potentially increase his earnings and financial independence.
Jeromy has been flourishing in this new environment at Auto Zone. He is now more verbal with his peers and has been using a warehouse phone to call his supervisor
when there is an issue with a product he is processing.
Bryan Lands Dream Job Working with Horses
Bryan started working with AHEDD in October 2012 through Franklin County’s Transition to Adult Life Success Program (TALs) when he was still a senior in high school. In 2014 AHEDD was successful in helping Bryan to find employment doing weeding and other outside work for eight hours a week. During this initial work experience, AHEDD learned Bryan was limited by his ability to work independently and had difficulty gauging when a job was complete.
In October 2015, with funding and guidance from the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), AHEDD assisted Bryan in securing a new job for 20 hours a week as a stable hand. His duties include: Cleaning 12 or more individual stalls, cleaning outside the stable with a leaf blower, emptying/filling water buckets, disinfecting water/feed buckets, feeding the horses hay, cleaning outside paddocks, and dumping manure. Going into this new job, AHEDD was still concerned with Bryan’s ability to work independently and stay focused. He also needed to learn how to drive a motorized vehicle to do his job effectively.
Assistance provided by an AHEDD job coach enabled Bryan to set goals for how long each task should take and utilize a wrist watch to stay on target. AHEDD also assisted him in developing strategies for effective completion of tasks, navigating a schedule adjustment to accommodate his transportation needs, and learning to drive a John Deere utility vehicle.
Once his initial 90 days of support was over with OVR, AHEDD coordinated the use of Waiver funds from Service Access Management (SAM) to provide additional support. AHEDD also worked with all parties involved to develop a plan for gradually reducing the level of support needed on site. The job coach from AHEDD is currently doing follow up with Bryan and his employer on a weekly basis.
Bryan’s supervisor currently reports that Bryan is a very hard worker and also very dependable. She is happy to have him on staff. Bryan really enjoys spending time with the horses. The position’s limited interaction with people is a great fit for Bryan’s interests and personality.
Matt and Julie Hammer, Owner
Matt Expands His Skills and Career Goals
In August 2014, business was going well for Rich and Julie Hammer, owners of The Barber Shop at High Pointe Center in Harrisburg. Soon their growing list of customers caused the Hammers to consider hiring another barber.
At the same time, AHEDD was utilizing waiver funds from Dauphin County to provide employment support to Matt Waller within other positions. Matt, a licensed barber working in the hair styling industry, was not yet fully meeting his career goal of actually cutting hair.
A friend of Matt’s told him about the potential opportunity in this Harrisburg barber shop and an interview was secured. Julie said she and her husband were so impressed by Matt’s perseverance in obtaining his barber’s license, and his knowledge of barbering in general, they hired him as a part-time barber.
Neither Julie nor Rich had a familiarity with Down Syndrome, but wanted to give Matt a chance. They stated they “would want the same for their children, if the situation were reversed.” The Hammers also had little knowledge of working with an agency like AHEDD.
From the beginning, Julie and Rich were open to having Matt’s AHEDD job coach on site for support. They also provided valuable feedback in areas such as socialization skills and achieving customer satisfaction. AHEDD’s job coaching was instrumental in Matt’s workplace success because it continually reinforced the employer’s training and expectations.
Matt started with The Barber Shop by cutting hair for customers over 65 years old. The Hammers opted to set Matt’s barber’s chair close to them so they could lend support and direction, when needed.
Understanding some long-time customers might be reluctant to having a new barber cut their hair, Julie and Rich patiently taught Matt how to meet their customers’ needs and created an environment that would “set Matt up to succeed,” which included cutting Julie’s father’s hair on a regular basis.
At one point, Julie noticed Matt took longer than usual when selecting different clipper heads. To help, she created a numbered-size box enabling Matt to more easily and quickly identify which clipper head to use, thereby reducing his non-cutting time and increasing customer satisfaction. The Hammers have also taught Matt how to handle customer payment transactions, which he now does without assistance.
Julie and Rich say they’re working to “fine tune” Matt’s skills so he can perform newer cuts with little or no input from them. It is clear Matt has become a more seasoned barber, as more clients are asking for him to cut their hair on a regular basis.
Matt’s dream is to one day own his own barber shop and states the Hammers’ offer a great example of how he would operate his own business.
AHEDD believes that Julie and Rich Hammer also demonstrate how business professionals can provide someone with the opportunity to work and grow while still filling a business need.