Diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy and a mild intellectual disability, Crystal moved from foster home to foster home until age 10. At age 18, she was referred to ECF’s work activity program called PAR Services where clients learn practical work habits, build social skills, and earn a paycheck in a supervised work environment. For 12 years, she worked on a variety of projects including collating, assembling and packaging. While Crystal was shy, she always had a smile to share with others and made many friends.
Recently, Crystal thought she was ready for something new. She transitioned into another ECF program called Supported Employment, which allowed her to explore a number of community job opportunities while receiving additional job training. When a paid ECF receptionist position opened in the PAR program, Crystal was thrilled to apply for and ultimately secured a paid staff position at ECF.
Crystal considers ECF to be like a home; therefore, this is a wonderful match for Crystal, who is truly the face of ECF.
Once on the verge of dropping out of school, Harold, now 25, is thriving. A client of ECF’s Supported Employment program and a graduate of ECF’s Kayne Eras School, Harold has the job of his dreams at one of Los Angeles’ most popular restaurants, the Cheesecake Factory.
This is because a transfer to ECF’s Kayne Eras School put Harold on the right path. The school’s focus on helping every child learn, no matter what their challenges, turned Harold around. After graduation, he enrolled in ECF’s adult program, Supported Employment, to receive the support and help he needed to look for, secure and keep a job.
Over a short two-year period, Harold was promoted from napkin folder to a host and greeter at the front desk, and then he quickly became one of the restaurant’s top hosts. He did such a good job he was made a trainer and became responsible for training all of the new front desk workers. As one of his co-workers says, “Harold makes the manager’s job easier every day.”
Fred is one of those special souls who make you smile simply by saying hello. Because of his good nature, compassion for others and happy demeanor, you would never know that Fred experienced a “failure to thrive” as a baby.
Born with a congenital disorder that resulted in a cognitive impairment and neglected by his birth parents, Fred faced a challenging future. But Fred’s adoptive parents nurtured and supported their son. They encouraged him to get the help he needed including his participation in ECF’s Work Readiness program. One of Fred’s initial assignments was volunteering with ECF’s Developmental Activity Center (DAC), which provides life-skills training and other enrichment services for adults with severe disabilities.
Fred did so well as a volunteer that he graduated to ECF’s Supported Employment program. Working with a job coach, he was offered several job opportunities including a Client Aide position at the very DAC where he volunteered. Fred accepted the DAC job, and two-and-a-half years later, he still brings his infectious enthusiasm and determination to work every day. From supervising field trips to teaching basic life skills, Fred is always there with a helping hand. And as a former client, Fred has a special empathy for those under his care. He’s a daily reminder of how anyone can grow and succeed with the right support.