After graduating from high school, Jeff went to work at a sheltered workshop in Southeast Missouri. He performed a variety of tasks from assembling hangers, to packaging comic books, to unloading trucks.
While working at the workshop, he lived in a supported living apartment and was picked up and dropped off by the workshop’s transportation.
Since this was his very first job, he learned some valuable lessons during the nearly 10 years he spent there. He learned the importance of punctuality and he developed a strong work ethic.
“I made a lot of friends up there,” Jeff said of the Fruitland workshop. “I still keep in contact with them.”
There came a point though when he decided to try something new. With the help of a former manager, Jeff was able to interview for a dish washing position at a restaurant in a nearby town. Because of his strong work record, he was hired. He worked steadily for years, working 20 to 25 hours a week and taking a cab to work.
The management at the restaurant knew Jeff was a dependable employee and would often ask him to fill in for other employees who were not quite so reliable. As a result, Jeff started accumulating more than 25 hours a week, which put his Social Security benefits at risk. He decided to quit the job, rather than lose his benefits.
Jeff worked for a maintenance company, doing landscaping for a year, before getting a job at another restaurant. Again, he only worked 20 to 25 hours a week, washing dishes.
“I worked there for nine years,” Jeff said. “I never missed a day.”
A few perks of this job included that he could walk to work and he was able to eat there at a discounted price.
Then in August of last year, he decided it was time for a change once again. Through the assistance of the staff at MERS Goodwill, Jeff obtained a job at a local hospital working in the kitchen washing dishes. He averages between 20 and 25 hours a week and travels to work on his scooter.
“It’s an easy job,” he said.
Looking back, Jeff is proud that he transitioned out of the sheltered workshop, as he is making more money and is living on his own.
“I’ve come a long way,” he said.