ACCES-VR and The Arc Wayne provide support
By Nicole Mauro
It’s not every day that you have the pleasure to meet someone like Jeff Austin. Jeff is a 20-year-old Newark High School graduate, and he currently works in the kitchen of the Newark Wegmans. When he isn't there washing dishes and helping to prepare or package food, you can find him either volunteering for the Fire Department at the famous Fairville Fish Fry, or attending the races at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee.
Jeff is preparing for a hectic, but fun summer. For the last six years, he's become more involved at the speedway, and this year, he is going to be part of two racing teams working in the pit crew – a dream that his late father always had for him. When his father passed away, Jeff was overwhelmed by the support that his Wegmans’ team offered him. Not long after, his grandfather passed away as well, leaving Jeff with an even heavier heart. His coworkers did not hesitate in making sure he knew they were there for him, whether it was giving him the time off, donating products for the services or even attending calling hours.
When Jeff took a culinary arts class at Wayne Technical and Career Center, a chef from Wegmans came in and spoke about job opportunities. That stuck with him and inspired him to apply at Wegmans when he began searching for a job.
Although he's a dishwasher right now, Jeff is looking forward to working his way into and learning new positions.
“I would like to work in the pizza department or sub shop because those are my two favorite things of all time,” he said.
One of Jeff's major goals is working toward becoming an active member of the Fairville Fire Department; right now he is a social member and loves being able to spend his free time volunteering. In the future, Jeff aspires to become either a famous chef or professional WWE wrestler. He even made sure to sign a Wegmans chef hat for me, just in case.
Jeff is involved in The Arc Wayne’s ACCES-VR program that he learned about through his high school psychiatrist. The program helped him secure his job at Wegmans. Krista Stiles, a vocational instructor for The Arc Wayne, works with Jeff to ensure he reaches his full potential and surpasses his goals through the assistance of the program.
ACCES-VR is available to persons with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program provides assessment to help identify skills, abilities, and interests. It also offers career counseling and guidance, rehabilitation and assistive technology, training, supported employment, and job placement and retention.
Open Future Learning is an online learning provider 100% dedicated to the field of intellectual disabilities. Recently, The Arc Wayne's residential program started using Open Future Learning's resources to create better opportunities for the individuals we support. All of the videos, modules, and other resources have helped our staff improve the way we interact and help the individuals we support in our residences.
Some of the topics this wonderful organization covers include Centered Approaches Thinking and Planning, Challenging Behavior, Supported Employment, and more. If you would like to learn more or use some of their valuable resources, visit the website or contact Connie Jones, The Arc Wayne's Residential Director, for more information.
Jessica Blondell, our Development Coordinator, writes all of our blog posts to keep everyone who supports The Arc Wayne up-to-date with what the agency is doing in the community. Enjoy!