James: Pursuing the Life You Want in Uncertain Times
Thrilled to return to work
In the midst of a global pandemic, James serves as a reminder to keep living the lives we choose and making everyday a great one. Due to COVID-19, James was out of work for 4 months and filled the time by working out, taking walks, housekeeping, and improving his drawing skills. But just recently he was able to return to helping customers at the Rite-Aid in Simi Valley.
James has been working at Rite-Aid for 19 years as an excellent and highly motivated employee. He proudly straightens the shelves when needed, serves ice cream, stocks merchandise, and provides impeccable customer service. James was thrilled when asked to return to work and his co-workers were happy to have him back as well. Jerry, James’ job coach, even made the comment that he really is an “all around good guy”. James said his favorite part of the job now is being able to receive rides from his support staff instead of taking public transportation. This gives him the ability to interact and talk with his support persons more.
However, there were some new guidelines all the employees had to adjust to, such as wearing gloves, face shields, and social distancing. But James was able to adapt without a struggle. He was flexible and handled the situation with ease.
A Tremendous Advocate
As a member of the JNCS Open Advocacy Forum leadership team, James has been a tremendous advocate for himself and others during this time and has never been afraid to speak out. His connectivity with friends, family, and co-workers is amazing. One of James’ supporting staff, Jessica, even recalled how he is the “first to reach out on the holidays” and always “good at keeping his circle connected”. James’ love for history as well as music makes him very knowledgeable and versed which generates great conversations. He even decided that once everything goes back to normal, he’s planning to get his groove on at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas.
Even with the strange times we’re living in, James is a true example of doing what you love. James says that “it’s been a cool adventure” working at Rite-Aid and living the life he wants. Although there are aspects of life that are very different right now, that doesn’t mean we have to stop living it. James teaches us that we can still be happy because of the many things we have to be thankful for.
Help make sure James and other individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities in California continue receive the individualized support they need to pursue the life they want: