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2013-2014 AHEDD Success Stories



In our role as an Employment Network (EN) in the Ticket to Work (TTW) Program, AHEDD has been able to expand the employment support available for customers, like Martin and Carolyn, who receive SSA benefits. Martin is a participant that chose to work with AHEDD, with the support of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), in the Pittsburgh area. Martin quickly used his charm and great interviewing skills to land employment as a Job Developer, but decided it was not the ideal job for him after working five days. After this setback, AHEDD set up a Community Based Work Assessment (CBWA) for Martin that required on-going commitment and professional interaction with varied groups of people.  This assessment allowed Martin and AHEDD to better review his skills and discuss problem solving in the workplace.

Later efforts led to Martin securing a position as a full time clerk with the Department of Public Welfare, a position he had held in the past.  He has now been employed for over 15 months. Once Martin’s case was closed with OVR, he assigned his Ticket to Work to AHEDD in order to continue receiving support after his initial 90 days of employment.  He has since worked his way off of SSDI and purchased a car.  AHEDD continues to provide Martin with regular support in order to discuss concerns at work and provide guidance for his career development. Martin states, “AHEDD cares about the whole person and not just the employment status.  That makes it easier to follow their advice because they have your best interest at heart.”  


Alt=AHEDD Participant Carolyn, standing straight at the camera smiling in her Pizza Hut uniform





When Jenna was referred to AHEDD, she had just completed St Anthony’s Post Secondary program where she gained some volunteer experience sorting and delivering mail. Since she had not yet had a paid position in this type of work, AHEDD began to better assess her skills and further explore her interests. Learning that Jenna has a great eye for detail, is extremely friendly, and has an interest in fashion, AHEDD suggested she apply for the Merchandising Associate position with Sears. She applied for this position and one other position.


Jenna was interviewed and offered her choice of either position in October 2012. Instead of taking the backroom merchandise position that was more like her past volunteer experience, Jenna chose to work part-time in the front of the house where she uses her creativity and communication skills. She sets up store displays, works with clothes, and interacts with customers. The department manager is available to address any questions from Jenna and shares that he likes to utilize her for team projects. Jenna has also been embraced by her co-workers and was chosen to participate in the store fashion show.

Alt=AHEDD Participant Martin, sitting at his desk using a laptop




AHEDD began working with Carolyn in August 2011. AHEDD helped Carolyn secure employment at Fannett Metal School District as a Dietary Aide, despite the fact that she had not worked for over 15 years. Throughout her year of employment with the school district, Carolyn struggled in keeping up with the required job tasks and had some interpersonal conflicts with co-workers. Despite the support provided, Carolyn decided to resign from this job after a year of employment.


She later found more satisfaction in a full-time job as a food service worker for Roy Rogers and Pizza Hut Express, within the Blue Mountain Turnpike Plaza.  With job coaching and support from AHEDD, Carolyn has been successfully working at the Turnpike Plaza since November 2012. Carolyn handles the cash register, makes the pizzas and stocks her area independently. She describes her place of employment as her “second family” and has had no issues with any co-workers. Her employer has said that the team feels Carolyn is a great fit.

Alt=AHEDD Participant Jenna, standing next to a clothing display at Sears


Participant Edward, standing by the red waste management truck his company uses to compact and transport waste



In January of 2013, Edward was referred to AHEDD for employment services by the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).  One challenge was Edward’s learning disability and its impact on his ability to read and write in English or Spanish. Since English is Edward’s second language, there were times when he had some difficulty understanding instructions in English.  Other challenges to finding employment included Edward’s limited paid work experience and the need to find a position within walking distance of his home.  

A little over a month after coming to AHEDD for guidance, Edward obtained a job as a Loader for River Valley Disposal in Columbia, PA.  In his role as a Loader, Edward rides the back of a waste/refuse disposal truck for 27 hours a week and earns $10 an hour.  He arrives to work at 4:15 a.m. each day and is subjected to the sights, smells, and extreme weather conditions that anyone in this position would experience.  Despite these difficult work conditions, the employer and co-workers have commented on Edward’s consistent work ethic and enjoyable personality.  Edward is even teaching the secretary to speak Spanish.


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