Donnell is a bright and good-natured young man who is one of the longest-attending clients in our day program. When Donnell was younger, he experienced difficulties communicating as a result of his Cerebral Palsy diagnosis. The inability to express himself was often frustrating, as well as limiting. Donnell began working on his communication skills with the Direct Support Professionals at The Center’s Adult Activity Center (AAC). Through hard work and caring guidance, he was able to improve his speech, allowing him to more clearly share his needs and let his personality shine. Donnell’s mother, Sylvia, credits the AAC with making it easier to talk with her son, bringing them closer together. In his free time, Donnell enjoys listening to music, watching classic television shows like Good Times, and appreciates a really good snack.
Mona is a client who has been coming to The Center for more than 20 years. A former resident at our Cullen Residence Hall, Mona now lives in the greater Houston community with her two roommates and attends The Center’s Adult Training and Employment Services day program. There she receives vocational training and does packaging and assembly projects for local and national companies. Mona is a very social person, always quick to say hello and enthusiastic about The Center’s parties and special events. She looks forward to her monthly Girl Scout meetings and enjoys going out with her roommate’s family. Mona often engages in conversation about disability because she wants others to know her capabilities—working, cleaning her room, putting away dishes, and going on trips, just to name a few.
In 1963, Harold’s parents took a small initiative that made a big difference in their son’s life by calling The Center. This led to Harold to find a job in the community and, eventually, a place to call home. In 1993, when his parents passed away, Harold moved into The Center’s Cullen Residence Hall. He continued to work until 2015 when, at the age of 77, he decided to retire to The Center’s Willow River Farms location in Brookshire, Texas. Harold enjoys the more rural lifestyle, but refuses to slow down; he is still working, now as a member of the Farm’s grounds maintenance crew. As Harold always says, “Someone’s got to do it.”
When David came to The Center two years ago, he started out in our vocational training program. In the months after he arrived, David had the opportunity to rotate through a variety of packaging, assembly, and shipping tasks and quickly mastered a variety of skills while building social skills. He recently got a job as a patient escort at the VA Medical Center here in Houston. He enjoys meeting and talking to all of the patients he encounters, particularly because his sister is an army veteran. David is thriving in his new position, quickly gaining a reputation as helpful, courteous, and capable. He takes pride in providing great service. When he’s not at work, David enjoys reading crime novels, playing games, and doing outdoor activities.
Roshonda is an energetic and determined person who loves trying new activities. She takes part in The Center’s Adult Training and Employment Services program doing assembly and packaging of various products while learning useful work skills. Roshonda cites the other clients in the program as her favorite aspect of coming to The Center, saying that she loves being able to learn alongside her best friends every day. In her free time, Roshonda enjoys spending time with friends, dancing, doing chores around her home, and watching BET.
There are ample opportunities for growth, choice, and independence for children and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). But once these young people graduate from high school, the list of opportunities all but disappears. For people like Sarah and her mother, it can seem like their whole world is closing in.
Fortunately, Sarah and her mom found The Center for Pursuit and our Employment Services Program. Through our training program, Sarah developed the necessary skills to gain employment at MOD Pizza. She works 3 days a week making boxes and packaging food. Sarah plays the electric guitar and drums and is an avid heavy metal fan. Her love of music and passion for her work have come together, as her manager encourages her to listen to her favorite music while she works. Sarah has truly blossomed in her job and developed a brand new community in her co-workers.
David’s family came to the Center for Pursuit in search of better career opportunities for David. David had held jobs off and on after high school and the most consistent work he could find was driving for Uber. However, David’s personal safety as a rideshare driver was a concern for both him and his family. An intelligent young man, his parents and grandmother knew he was capable of so much more and turned to the Center for Pursuit for help.
Accenture, a Fortune Global 500 company, has an unwavering commitment to inclusion and diversity and appears regularly on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity lists. A strategic partner to The Center for Pursuit in employment services, we were eager to match David with our friends at Accenture.
David’s role at Accenture is to help create a positive and healthy workplace. He leaves home each morning at 6:00 am so that he arrives at the office before everyone else does. He makes coffee, stocks snacks and supplies, and makes sure the office is ready for the day ahead. His job keeps him moving and on his feet all day long, ensuring employee and client needs alike are met.
“I love meeting all the different people every day,” David said when asked what he liked most about his job. A reliable and hardworking employee, this match is a win for all!
In all her life, Claudia had never held a job. She has been a client at Center for Pursuit for over 20 years. Claudia is Autistic and low to mid-functioning on the spectrum. She is kind and trusting, and her family worries constantly about her being taken advantage of.
But Claudia knew she could do more with her life if she just had the chance. In her mid-50’s, she decided to start working with our Employment Services Program. Our team of professionals at Employment Services works with clients to help them identify what types of work environments would best suit them. For example, is a larger corporation or smaller organization going to be a better fit? Is this someone who enjoys working alone or on a team with others? Is a fast-paced or slow-paced environment better suited to the individual? In addition, our Employment Services team also works with our clients to help them understand how to identify the signs that someone may be trying to take advantage of them, as well as how to protect themselves and privacy on social media.
After weeks of preparation, the Center for Pursuit placed Claudia at MOD Pizza, one of our amazing community partners who is committed to employment diversity and inclusion. It’s been over 6 months since Claudia started and both employer and employee couldn’t be happier about their arrangement.
Claudia is more than dependable—often showing up to work an hour or more early! Her spirit and energy have been embraced by clients and co-workers alike. Claudia has found inner confidence and strength through her job she never knew she had.
Erinne is a graduate of HCC Vast Academy, which helped prepare her to enter the workforce. After learning the ropes at Goodwill and E-books, Erinne is now the Receptionist for the Executive Team at Cullen. Erinne handles many different office projects, including greeting guests, coordinating the conference room schedule, ensuring the room is ready for events, and prepping meeting folders. She is always happy to lend a hand in any task, from labeling and stamping holiday cards, to making sure there are Gingersnaps available for our guests.