PTI and MERS MO Goodwill Industries: Social Success in Employment
Michael began his Pathways to Independence journey in November of 2015 seeking an environment to develop his social skills, specifically beginning conversations with new people. “I wanted to initiate conversations with new people, get out more and be more independent,” he recollects about when he first got started at PTI.
Michael heard about PTI’s programs through the MERS MO Goodwill Industries Autism Employment Program (MMGI-AEP), which supports adults diagnosed with autism in finding job placements in the St. Louis area. MMGI-AEP training programs provide individualized learning strategies and practical hands-on work experiences that “change lives through the power of work.” “Social skills are vital to the success of employment, as work is a social environment,” says MMGI-AEP Coordinator of Autism Services Jennifer Glassmeyer, “Pathways is able to provide a service for our clients that helps to enhance their successful outcomes in their employment settings by allowing practice and support in achieving their goals.”
Several times a year, PTI and MMGI-AEP get together to host a social event for MMGI-AEP participants with PTI staff. This partnership provides a unique opportunity for their clients to not only refine their employment skills, but also have a chance to try PTI’s social programs. “Jessie and Rose have been amazing with our clients,” says Jennifer Glassmeyer. “They really get the importance of what we are hoping to achieve with each client. They further the progress in each of our client’s areas of need. We are very fortunate to have this partnership with Pathways to allow for the continued social growth of our clients in a setting that we are unable to offer ourselves.” Last year, MMGI-AEP and PTI partnered for ten events serving 33 participants. Michael was one of those who attended a couple of these social events through the MMGl-AEP and PTI partnership before deciding that PTI’s programs were a good fit for his social goals.
Michael continues to enjoy his work as a dishwasher at Nordstrom’s Café, thanks to the MMGI-AEP employment program. He also states that the conversation skills he has gained through PTI “have helped me communicate better with my co-workers.” When he isn’t working, Michael has enjoyed moonlighting as a thriving PTI participant for the past nine months. He said that he particularly enjoys the day trips, where he can utilize the new social skills he has learned through PTI over an extended period. “I have gone on day trips to Springfield, Illinois and Herman, Missouri” says Michael, “It’s nice to get out and visit new places.”
In the future, Michael states, “I’m looking forward to getting out in the community more, making more friends, and just being as social as possible!”