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Community Connections Program Provides Work Opportunities to tho - KOAM TV 7

Community Connections Program Provides Work Opportunities to those with Autism

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Joplin, MO -

     A program for adults with disabilities is ready to expand.
     Easter Seals is creating work opportunities through its Community Involvement program.
     And it wants to link a willing labor force with those in need in a new effort on Facebook called Community Connections.

Pat Potter was in his element Thursday working in the outdoors.
He boasted, "I love it!  It
s actually very fun.  Actually I find it fun. I love yard work. I actually love landscape too."
He's among a team of Easter Seals client workers tackling yard work on three acres   at Nikki Straw's home.

The group included her daughter Joycelynn who has autism and also works with head start.
Joycelynn said, "It's really  good with kids. And I like kids. I have eight boys and two girls.
She added, And I really want to live on  my own and have friends over for movies."
Tracy Taylor, the coordinator of autism services at Easter Seals in Joplin said,
Some people do  have jobs and still come to our volunteer program. And some are working on finding jobs.  Thats always the end goal.  What they want to do with their life. We want to support them. But this volunteer program does help them gain the skills to be employable.

Nikki has been an advocate for autism services for twenty years and at a recent support group meeting heard discussion about job sites, creating more work opportunities in a new program. She said, After the meeting a light bulb came on, maybe I could be a job site.” Straw had recently been diagnosed with Lupus and needed help maintaining her property. She said, “I asked and they said, sure we would  love to come help you.”

 
The crew currently volunteers at a number of  charities and schools but organizers with Easter Seals said they know it makes a big difference to the local Joplin Meals on Wheels program. Taylor explained, "They don
t have to hire staff to do meals on wheels. They dont have to look for other volunteers. They rely on us to deliver meals.  Plus we get to build relationships with the elderly people we deliver to."
Pat, who delivers usually five days a week agreed,  "I enjoy it. There
s one guy, I won't  say his  name, he's very funny, very comical, always makes you laugh."

Building social skills is just one of the benefits on their end.  Nikki thanked them with lunch. But the crew members like Pat are grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand."  Pat bragged, I feel great cause I accomplished something. I feel more accomplished when Im helping someone like Nikki Straw here."
 

Nikki to said, Its accomplishment. Pat will come up and drag me over to see what he's done. He's proud of it. They all are. They're proud of what they do."
And willing to make more community connections with others in need of help.  To arrange for jobs like yard work, walking a pet, cooking and more go to the  Easter Seals  Facebook page.

Here's a link 


 

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