Chris Johnson (CJ) embodies what is possible through Access to Community Services partner agencies. With support from Goodwill SCWI job coaches, CJ has thrived at his job for more than 20 years. A popular figure at the downtown brew pub where he works, CJ’s work day starts each weekday afternoon. His employers say he’s the best kind of employee: reliable, always on time, hard-working, and friendly with both co-workers and customers. His primary duties include cleaning – counters, tables, and laying out place settings.
In between his work duties, CJ usually finds time for dancing, encouraging everyone around him to join in the fun. His musical interests often lead to song. From CJ’s perspective, singing Roll Out The Barrel and laying the silverware are his two favorite things about his job. And from the perspective of his co-workers, CJ is one of the best parts of everyone else’s job.
When CJ was in school, he never learned how to read. In the spring of 2016, CJ became actively involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Madison-another ACS partner agency. GiGi’s provided him the opportunity to learn to read through weekly one-on-one tutoring at the Playhouse. With this program, CJ quickly learned how to recognize numerous words, especially his favorite food-themed words. Both his tutor and his family were stunned by his progress, and CJ continues to be excited by the opportunity to learn. Partner agencies with Access to Community Services help thousands of people gain equal access to opportunities that allow them to live, work and enjoy life in their communities.
ARCHIVE SUCCESS STORY
On August 25, 2000 Deanna Gabelt’s life changed dramatically. She was in a car accident and was taken via Med Flight to a hospital where she remained in a coma for over three months. When she recovered from the coma, she was admitted to a brain injury center for inpatient rehabilitation services. In 2002, she moved out of the brain injury center to an Adult Family Home and eventually moved into an apartment in Madison where she is currently living. Although Deanna is independent with most of her activities of daily living, she requires verbal reminders to complete these tasks. Residential support staff helps her with these reminders and helps to coordinate and take Deanna to her medical appointments. During the overnight hours, Deanna maintains her independence with electronic monitoring support from Responsive Solutions’ Sound Response program.
Work Plus began providing vocational support services to Deanna in 2002. Staff from Work Plus assisted Deanna in getting a few volunteer positions. These positions allowed Deanna to rebuild her work skills with the goal of getting a paid job. Deanna achieved her goal of paid employment in September 2003 when she began working as a Clerical Assistant at Work Plus. Deanna then developed a new goal of obtaining employment in retail, something she had done prior to her injury. Deanna has always been a true believer in customer service and will not hesitate to drop what she is doing if she notices a customer in need of assistance. She reached her goal of returning to retail in January 2015 when she was hired as a Supply Assistant at Betty Bling. Deanna performs a variety of tasks involving organizing and displaying merchandise. She is often the first person to greet customers as they enter the store and takes pride in helping people feel comfortable. Deanna has excelled at this position and recently had her hours at work increased.
With the help of her Avenues to Community Support Broker, Deanna developed a person centered plan of support. This plan identifies Deanna’s needs and goals so that she can receive the support she needs to help achieve these goals.
Deanna is a very social woman who enjoys spending time with friends, shopping, going out to eat, word search books, and playing games on the computer. She is active and engaged in numerous activities, such as attending various VSA Wisconsin arts classes, going to the gym, going to church and spending time with her children and her parents.
It wasn’t too long ago when she went through a painful period in her life and thought she would lose her rights to remain involved in her children’s lives. Deanna stood strong through the legal process for the love of her children and was able to maintain her rights as their mother. Deanna’s children are now adults and they have a wonderful relationship with Deanna.
Although Deanna has been through many difficulties and changes caused by her brain injury she never fails to welcome each morning with new possibilities. “I forget things at times, but I do not forget to welcome my morning with a smile.”
Deanna is one of thousands of people whose lives have been transformed by the support they receive from Access to Community Services (ACS) organizations. Contributions to ACS or to individual organizations within ACS make a significant difference not only in the lives of people with disabilities, but more importantly, in the lives of all community members.