The Center Community

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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 Pursuit Learning Academy (PLA). There she is able to interact with her friends, learn and enjoy different activities throughout the day. 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.

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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.”

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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.

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Roshonda is an energetic and determined person who loves trying new activities. She takes part in The Center’s Pursuit Learning Academy (PLA), a program that gives her the opportunity to be with her friends and grow as an individual. 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.

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There are ample opportunities for growth, choice, and independence for children and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  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 Employment Services Program at The Center for Pursuit. 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. In Sarah’s free time, she plays the electric guitar and drums and is an avid heavy metal fan. Her love of music and her passion to 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 with her co-workers.

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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!

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Claudia became a client of The Center for Pursuit over 20 years ago. She liked going to programs but wanted a change of pace. Claudia decided in her mid-50s, that she wanted a job. She started working with our support staff in Employment Services, to help her identify the type of work environment that would best suit her. 

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. 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.

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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 at The Center for Pursuit. Erinne is a leader and is eager to help with different office projects, answering phones, greeting guests, taking visitors on tours, 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.