A celebration about disability and community

BallyWho! Features Customized Employment Story

ACHIEVA's new webseries, BallyWho!, aims to tell overlooked community stories, and share them through the lens of people with disabilities. Hosted by Erin Gannon, one of the founding hosts of the Golden Quill award winning podcast Look Who's Here!, BallyWho! is meant to be a celebration about disability and community, approaching topics with excitement and positivity. “Whether it's a disability-specific topic or a big community event,” says Chris Mielo, director of the series and ACHIEVA's Communications Manager, “the goal of BallyWho! is to show disability as part of southwestern Pennsylvania communities, and reveal the stories that people rarely get to know.”

The first entry in the BallyWho! series has showcased a successful employment tool for one man. Simon Foizey, a young adult with disabilities, was able to obtain a job from a new approach towards job coaching for people with disabilities called ‘customized employment.’ Brady Scheib, an employment planning specialist, outlined that customized employment is, “a new service to help job seekers with disabilities to help them find a job that’s going to be a good job match and be successful.”

With customized employment, Simon was able to work at “Home,” a restaurant in Smallman Galley in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, PA. Simon was the first successful customized employment case (funded by OVR) in western Pennsylvania, and it has been a huge success so far. According to John Kuhn, the lead employment specialist of ACHIEVA’s Community Based Employment, the job starts with a process called discovery. “We use that information to help a job fit into his life, rather than having Simon try to fit into a job.”

When Simon first started his job he was having difficulty remembering and finding the table numbers to deliver orders. Through discovery, Simon's customized employment team learned of his love of Transformers. With their focus of making the job work for Simon, they put a different Transformer on each table number, allowing him to find the table by name of the Transformer. Now, Simon has improved so much that he no longer needs the Transformers to help him navigate the restaurant.

The infectious energy that Simon brings with him everywhere is a perfect reason as to why his coworker’s love working with him. The owners of the restaurant, Melanie and Phillip Milton remarked, “He’s very much a part of our team. The “Home” staff looks forward to seeing him each week as do the staff of Smallman Galley.”

It is very apparent that Simon loves his job and that Customized Employment was so successful for him. You can catch Simon at “Home” in the Smallman Galley.



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