Sarah H. was referred to Excel for a Community Based Assessment in July 2014. She had very limited work experience and was very hesitant to do a work trial. After some discussion, she agreed to give it a try. She loves doing crafts and so her top choice for a work trial was Joanne’s Fabrics. Excel had never worked with Joanne’s before but since we strive to make each placement individualized, we called Joanne’s Fabric and developed a site for her at the Auburn Hills location. Sarah and her Vocational Evaluation Specialist worked two days together and on day three Sarah was observed by an area manager who happened to be in the store while she worked. He was so impressed as he watched that he asked the store manager about her. After it was explained that she was doing a work assessment, he told the manager to offer her a job on the spot. Sarah accepted and has been successfully employed there since. All management reports are glowing and during a site visit, fellow employees were eager to relate how wonderful she is! This is a true success story!
BJ M. started attending Excel’s Non-Vocational Program in the summer of 2013. When he first started, BJ was very timid and withdrawn. BJ did not participate in many activities; he would sit back and watch. His coaches and peers would talk with BJ and encourage him to try new things with no avail. BH has an electronic board that is loaded with many things for him to communicate. He would not use his board accept to say “no” when prompted to join the group for activities. BJ was scheduled 3 days a week, 2 of those days being activities out in the community. On his community days, BJ refused to go out with the group. Within a year, staff started seeing a change in BJ. He would arrive smiling, giving us the “thumbs up” sign and he would independently join his group for activities. BJ started using his communication board more. He would tell us jokes, choose his activities and he had his family assist him with loading the coaches names into the board. BJ started requesting to learn and do more things at Excel. On any given day, he can be seen vacuuming the floor, assisting with woodshop projects, shredding paper for the administrative staff, joining in on games and doing special projects with his assigned staff. Just recently, Excel’s service coordinator attended BJ’s IPOS meeting and they discussed his current schedule. In the beginning of this summer, BJ dropped a day with us to attend a therapeutic riding program. To our surprise, BJ requested to pick up an extra day to supplement his lost day. BJ chose to participate in our woodshop class! His family and staff reported that BJ comes home from program very happy and that he is always excited to go to excel on his scheduled days. We have watched BJ come out of his shell and feel like a valued member of his community. He always appears to be happy and willing to try new things. He has a contagious smile that inspires us at Excel to keep doing the things we are doing.
When Cole was eleven, he was in a car accident where the car went over the side of a mountain in Boulder Colorado. He was thrown from the vehicle and both parents died. The accident left Cole with brain damage that caused partial paralysis on his right side and some short-term memory loss. He also has a slight delay in his speech at times. Cole is now 22. Recently, Cole was volunteering at Yad Ezra, a Jewish Community Food Bank, where he handed out food to the guests. But now he has a paying job. I was able to help Cole find a job by designing a flyer for him that included his photo and talked about his charming and witty personality. I posted the flyer on Facebook and LinkedIn and took it to local businesses. My neighbor, Bob, read the post and sent me a note to ask about Cole. Bob owns an apartment complex that is being renovated. He suggested that I contact the leasing office to set up an interview for Cole. The interview went great. The property manager was soon smiling and laughing at Cole's fun-loving personality. She came up with a list of duties that Cole could preform and it was decided that he could work 4 hours per day for 3 days a week. Just a week prior to the interview, Cole was given an eviction notice because his landlord was doing major remodeling. During the job interview it was revealed that an apartment was available for Cole. SO, not only does Cole have a new job he is also able to live at the same complex where he works! Today was Cole's first day. He told me at the end of his shift, "You never work a day in your life if you love what you do." And, "I love it here."