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Antonio Adams has been successfully employed in the community for more than fifteen years. Antonio, like others who have difficulty expressing themselves, has a label that he carries around. Antonio however, refuses to be defined by a label. He tells his own story, in his own way, through his work and his art. He has worked at a local restaurant in Cincinnati for more than fifteen years, a position that Ohio Valley Goodwill helped him to obtain. Prior to that time, he was a participant in the organization’s training program, which helps individuals to learn skills needed to obtain and keep a community job. Particular attention is paid to helping build self-confidence and assisting individuals to identify their personal vocational direction.
Antonio says of Goodwill that it is “regular people with disabilities who do certain things at jobs and communities. They found me a job- so I could work there- an opportunity. I work with a job coach. She helps me make sure to do my work very well. Goodwill is about jobs and community for people with disabilities. I think it’s a good thing.”
Ohio Valley Goodwill’s Work Site Supports or Job Coaching services, provides on-going support to individuals employed in the community for as long as they are employed. This unique service is a result of a long-time partnership between Goodwill and Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Long-term job coaching support services are provided in an effort to help individuals to maintain their employment over time.
Antonio’s job coach provides follow-along support for Antonio in his position at Frisch’s restaurant. Over the years, Antonio has grown socially as well as artistically through his jobs in the community as well as his artwork. Regularly, the Goodwill job coach receives employer and co-worker feedback regarding Antonio’s personal development; how he communicates well with his co-workers and supervisors; has dramatically increased his self-confidence; and has more personal interaction with others including making gifts for co-workers, and getting them involved in his art work and photography.
Antonio comments that he feels that Goodwill’s Coaching department has played an important part in his life. He believes that he has learned how to focus on work and become the very valuable employee that he is today through Goodwill’s on-going support. He also stated that coaching services played an important part in teaching him his job duties and helping him to maintain his position at Frisch’s for the more than 15 years he has worked there. Antonio’s manager indicated that he is a dependable employee who is always there does a great job.
Antonio says he loves his job and loves working with his co-workers and customers alike. He also credits Ohio Valley Goodwill for helping him to achieve success in his work life.
But, Antonio is not only about being a worker, which is an important part of his life, but also about his art. One of the founding members of Visionaries and Voices, a non-profit studio created specifically for artists with disabilities to grow personally and professionally, Antonio has become quite well-known for his “outsider” art. In the time that Antonio has been creating art- first drawings and then sculptures from discarded items, he’s switched media and turned from drawing to painting and now to commissioned paintings and sculptures. He has traveled from Cincinnati to California as a featured artist and member of the Visionaries and Voices studio group.
When asked what Antonio thinks about his journey with Visionaries and Voices and Goodwill over the past fifteen years, Antonio says “It’s like a real life.”