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Success Story: Samson

Samson never thought of himself as disabled. “I don’t really see autism as a sort of barrier,” he said about why he came to Goodwill. “But I didn’t know what I’d be good at.”

Initially Samson’s counselors described him as very shy and removed. Because of this and no access to transportation, he stayed rather secluded. He felt a lack of independence. “I did nothing all day but play video games,” he said. He felt like something was missing in his life, and that something was a job.

In November of 2017, Samson began his job search through Goodwill’s Vocational Evaluation program. The first phase of this program included a “situational assessment” to see how he would perform within a controlled work center setting at Goodwill. He was placed into Goodwill’s Industrial Services center performing light industrial tasks contracted from other businesses, but struggled with sensory overload working in the busy facility.

Samson felt the large and noisy environment was not a good fit for him. Katherine, his Goodwill case manager, recognized that a new setting could potentially be beneficial to him. Finding a community integrated competitive employment for him had the challenge of not only finding an employer with the right environment, but also finding one that was within walking distance of Samson’s home.

Katherine reached out to Lake Effect Kitchen, a new commercial kitchen specializing in take-home meals and catering. The proximity of the Grand Haven company to Samson’s home was ideal. Through Goodwill’s on-the-job assessment, Samson began training at Lake Effect Kitchen. Goodwill assisted Lake Effect Kitchen in using training tools such as checklists to help Samson learn the duties of his job. This supportive environment was such a good fit for Samson that it was not long before he became the company’s first employee.

“Goodwill helped me figure out what I’d be good at,” Samson said of his experience. “Sometimes it is good to simply ask someone what they think you should try.”

Now that Samson is able to work in an environment compatible to him, he is gaining the level of independence he has always wanted. “I like the opportunity to do more than one thing. There is variety and creativity and I like that the area is small but that I am able to move around. I really like going to the schools and helping with meals there,” Samson said.

Samson’s experience at Goodwill has allowed him to go from being shy and not wanting to talk about his life to being willing to share his story and all of his accomplishments. “I love working. I was missing that in my life. Waking up and having nothing to do is not something I want to go back to.”

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