For students under the age of twenty-two, high school vocational programs prepare adolescent youth for what’s next. Unfortunately, on a student’s twenty-second birthday, the public school system no longer continues to allow these young adults into their classrooms. However this is not a detriment to one’s life. In fact, organizations, like Brevard Achievement Center (BAC), work with these former students, taking them in as clients and continuing to prepare them for the real world.

To learn more about BAC’s transitioning programs, visit bacbrevard.com.

Woman using long kitchen hose to clean dishes.

Employers, co-workers and guests at Patrick Air Force Base’s Riverside Dining hall love Carolyn. And it’s evident she loves her job back!

Self-advocacy is her power

In 1979, Cocoa High School student Carolyn H. patiently awaited her parents’ meeting to end. The topic of discussion was Carolyn’s graduation from the current program she was in. Graduation can be scary for some families who do are not aware of their options. For this reason, the best possible next-course-of-action is heavily reviewed.

Exiting the meeting, doctors suggest to Carolyn’s parents that a “sheltered workshop” was the best option come graduation. But, Carolyn had other ideas…

For years, Carolyn came to BAC’s Adult Day Training (ADT) program where she learned how to prepare meals, enhance her social skills, create art and make new friends. She also earned a bi-weekly paycheck from her work in the Production Center. Carolyn eagerly performed jobs like mail fulfillment, kit assembly, packaging and other contracted business services. She made it clear to her supervisors, however, that getting a job outside of the Production Center was her goal. They listened.

Carolyn’s can-do attitude, determination and dependability made her a great choice for special project work. She let her supervisors know on more than one occasion that she wanted to work in the community. The Industry Readiness Training (IRT) pilot program was the perfect solution to get her closer to her goal.

Working for her future

The IRT program gives participants real world job skills in an actual work setting. Trainers felt Carolyn was well suited for the Perkins Restaurant “work pod” where she could learn food and customer service skills. When IRT program coordinator, Luisa Ozuna, learned that BAC’s Riverside Dining Facility contract at Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) needed a dish washer, she let Carolyn know. Carolyn was giddy at the opportunity; her sister not so much.

Concerns about transportation, adequate on-the-job supports and potential loss of state benefits gave her sister a pause. When the IRT team secured Carolyn transportation through BAC’s own shuttle service, assured her sister that PAFB created this job for someone with a disability and that state benefits were not in jeopardy, her sister let Carolyn take the job.

Today, Carolyn is thriving. By being her own advocate, and she was paid handsomely in more ways than one.

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