TransCen’s Positive Impact on My Son, Julio
by Karen Kelly, Parent
I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience with my son and his employment journey and WorkLink, the San Francisco program of TransCen Inc. My son, Julio, was born with a full complement of disabilities which include mild cerebral palsy, mild aphasia, cognitive and small motor skills impairments, etc. No single disability defines Julio or his abilities. He is an interesting and spirited individual. I was never afraid for him, not in his present or future life. I knew he had terrific potential to do and be whatever he was created to be. But I needed help for his life after high school and finding it was a scary process.
A job for Julio was the priority, but I had no knowledge of any support or resources available to us. The state and local agencies and the unified school district programs we visited had a very restrictive, siloed, one-size fits all approach to the client. There was limited individuality awarded to the participant, no effort to socially integrate the group in the community, no provision for an appropriate skill and interest assessment, and few learning activities. I never sensed a realistic job training or development component was in the offering.
I found WorkLink through a special needs program fair. They offered the structure and support I didn’t think existed and offered a program that could be customized to my son. My attraction to the organization was immediate.
From the start, WorkLink partnered with Julio and his family to uncover and assess his interests, evaluate his potential, and promote his desirability in the employment market. Additionally, they worked with Julio to build and expand his life skills (communication, self-awareness/direction), his sociability (body language, courtesy, hygiene) and community integration (travel training, volunteering, and work). WorkLink’s investment in Julio and in his family was total. The growth in his personal development, confidence and maturity became apparent very soon after engaging with WorkLink. Everyone in his family took notice and was delighted with the happy adult Julio had become.
For the last 5 years, Julio has worked in a professional office setting and managed the firm’s office supplies, food ordering and stocked the kitchens and cleaned the common spaces Due to COVID-19 the office was closed in March and has not reopened. While his hours have been reduced the company continues to keep him on the payroll. To earn his wage, since he is not able to perform his usual task, his boss requested that Julio do something that will “make the team smile”. Each week Julio picks a name from a hat and requests a photo from the winner. Using various mediums, Julio does a portrait which he then shares with the group during the all-hands meeting. WorkLink’s coaching staff continues to be involved. They have helped him to organize a workspace in his home and provided a laptop. They are working with him on learning to send emails, photograph his work and zoom with his co-workers and friends. His coach checks in throughout the week to make sure Julio is on-track. His coach also provides IT support and delivers art supplies.
WorkLink has been extraordinarily creative in their work to keep the clients together over a remote space, to stimulate their thinking and provide a learning environment. For the work piece, WorkLink keeps the connection open between the employer and Julio. They manage Julio’s expectations realistically and plan for a post-Covid future with him.
As you contemplate where you can make the biggest impact this holiday season, I hope you’ll consider supporting TransCen Inc. At TransCen, every dollar goes directly to providing free support services to those who need it most. TransCen is a community where people with disabilities can find meaningful work and community inclusion.
Please join me in making a year-end gift that will help sustain TransCen Inc.’s support services nationwide for years to come.
Karen Kelly, Parent of a WorkLink/TransCen Client