Juan: Driven to Succeed
"If I didn't have [Advocates] as a resource, I don't know if I would still have all that I have now."
Trained as a graphic artist, Juan was out of work for several years after a series of surgeries to remove benign brain tumors. The effects of his surgeries, including executive memory impairment and hearing loss, have made it impossible for him to continue in his chosen field which relies heavily on communicating with clients.
Today, thanks to his determination to reach his goals and with help from Advocates' Northeast Vocational Rehabilitation (NEVR) program, Juan is back in the working world and thriving.
According to Michelle Demore-Taber, senior operations director for NEVR, "The degree of Juan's hearing loss, along with the fact that English is his second language, set him on a challenging path. Yet he has exhibited a remarkable determination to work competitively, to live independently and to be a contributing member of society."
For several years, Juan worked in volunteer capacities and eventually interned at a Boston public relations firm, drawing on his training in graphic design. "The time Juan spent volunteering and interning really prepared him for success in a competitive job," says Michelle. "He was able to adjust over time to the routines and demands of the work world."
When the time came for Juan to enter the competitive workforce, the NEVR staff tapped into his neat-nick tendencies and affable personality and matched him with a position well suited to these strengths. Three years ago, he started a job reconditioning cars and transporting customers for a rental car agency in Boston's Government Center.
"Finding that niche job that gives a person the likelihood of success can take a lot of time on the front end, but the likelihood of retaining it is good," says Michelle, who continues to provide Juan with ongoing support through meetings a few times each month.
"He's made enormous progress," Michelle says of Juan. "It's a credit to his tremendous determination and work ethic that he's been so successful. His disease is still progressing and he's losing his hearing gradually, but he's more independent now than he's been in the last 10 years."
For Juan, Advocates has given him a way to reengage in the work force and maintain his independence. "It has been a very rewarding experience being helped by Advocates and their employees. If I didn't have them as a resource, I don't know if I would still have all that I have now."
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Advocates provides support services for people with:
- Mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse
- Intellectual or developmental disabilities or co-occurring mental illness and developmental disability
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
- Autism and pervasive developmental disabilities
- Acquired or traumatic brain injury
We also provide support services for:
- Deaf adults with mental illness or a developmental disability
- Families who are supporting a family member with a disability
- Elders living in the community who may have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder
- Adults with a mental health diagnosis in jail or re-entering the community
- Youth in transition from foster care
- Individuals and families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness