Hometown: Corte Madera, California
After graduating from the Star Academy, a private, non-profit special education school in San Anselmo, California, Bob came to Moving Forward in 2006. While his Asperger’s had always made socialization a challenge for Bob, his keen mind for geography and cartography always makes for an interesting and informative conversation.
“Bob can tell you how to get from anywhere in the country to anywhere else, which highways to take and what you’ll pass on the way,” marvels Donna Feingold, executive director of Moving Forward. “He’s just amazing. In fact, all of our residents are really amazing.”
“I’m a full time courtesy clerk at Raley’s,” boasts Bob. “I’m a bagger, plus sometimes I help clean the store in the morning.” To get to work, Bob rides his bike from his apartment about a mile away, sometimes at 4:30 in the morning when he’s on the early shift. If it’s raining, his case manager picks him up, or he takes a cab. Bob found employment at Raley’s through Napa Valley Support Services (NVSS), a community-based agency.
The NVSS 2007 Annual Report reads: “watching Bob work, with an ever present pep in his step and an energy that practically emits sparks, it’s easy to see why Raley’s management recently chose to use Bob as a role model for the level of customer service they’d like all their employees to display. They call it “finding your inner Bob”, giving great customer service with a positive attitude.”
Bob has his driver’s license, and plans to get a car this summer. He lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment, but often plays host to his many friends from Moving Forward who come over for dinner, to watch a movie or play video games.
“On Monday nights I go to the leadership class to learn safety and apartment life skills,” explains Bob. “I play guitar in the band on Tuesday nights, and I cook with the apartment cooking group once a week, and host the dinner here at my apartment once a month.” Bob’s favorite things to cook? He likes to make pasta, sausages, meatball sandwiches and pizza.
Moving Forward Towards Independence offers hope and life lessons to young adults with learning disabilities. For many young adults, learning how to cope in the world after high school is a challenge. In fact, for most, it’s a rather complex process: Figuring out what to do, finding a job, managing finances and paying bills, getting along with a roommate for the first time, learning that cooking means more than nuking something in the microwave, etc. Each of these involves a learning process and when tackled all at once, can be overwhelming to even the most capable among us. Now imagine attempting to take it all on with extra-cognitive challenges. That’s what the residents of Napa, California-based Moving Forward Towards Independence, face – with enthusiasm and courage – every day.
Moving Forward Towards Independence is a nonprofit, residential program in beautiful Napa, CA committed to guiding our residents to achieve their highest potential. By providing an environment that maintains a balance of challenges and support, Moving Forward fosters growth in social, vocational and interpersonal skills. Working in partnership with residents and their families, we offer a caring and responsive community where young adults with complex learning or mild developmental disabilities can enjoy productive, fulfilling and healthy lives. For more information visit www.moving-forward.org
This post originally appeared on our September/October 2010 Magazine