When Bobby, an Aspire ART360 participant in Zion, IL, sets his mind on accomplishing something, he usually does. Take painting, for example. “At first I wasn’t sure how to do it,” said Bobby, “but once I started to mix colors, it was easy to create.”
His expertise as a painter has grown ever since. “When people tell me they like my work, it makes me want to paint more,” he said. Through ART360, he also earns a portion of the proceeds when a piece of his art is sold.
Bobby, who lives in an Aspire community home, recently took on a new challenge. “He wanted a job in the community,” said Aspire Employment Specialist Leigh Anne Jackson, who worked closely with Bobby for six months, helping him acquire the skills he’d need.
Leigh Anne has been helping people with disabilities increase their independence and find employment in their communities for over 20 years. During that time, she’s also been educating employers about the value people with disabilities bring to the workplace. “I tell employers to take a chance on us because we’re a good bet,” she said. “We not only train people well, but provide them with support after they’re hired to ensure their success.”
Bobby’s hard work while training with Leigh Anne paid off. In July of 2019, he started a new job – his first ever – as a utility clerk at Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Zion, IL.
The same pride that Bobby takes in his art, he applies to his job, helping customers out to their cars, corralling grocery carts, restocking shelves, cleaning and more. While he’s currently working just one day a week, Bobby’s been doing such a good job that he hopes to add a second day soon.
“This job is the perfect fit for Bobby,” said Leigh Anne. “He deserves it.”