Drew’s Journey to Independence


Drew saw his confidence take off after finding a job that aligns with his skills and interests. Now he hopes to one day live independently.

Drew was already part of MOKA’s Skill Building Program when he made the decision to set his sights on a new goal, to find successful employment. It was at this time that he enrolled in MOKA’s Employment Services Program to help him prepare for the job-seeking process. With the support of Job Developer Jamey Curtis, he found employment as a Custodian with Reliant Professional Cleaning.

Drew’s job has helped him to gain independence. “I get to buy my own things now,” says Drew. He has also learned to budget more effectively for transportation, and hobbies, and to save for his future goal of living independently.

He started work with Reliant Professional Cleaning in June 2021 and spends most of his working hours at GE Aviation in Muskegon. He has a route on the shop floor where he collects garbage, sanitizes, vacuums, and runs the floor scrubber – something he found intimidating at first.

“We spent a lot of time in his coaching to really boost his confidence and cheer him on while he is doing his job and to gain skills in operating the floor scrubber. Now he can successfully walk into any facility where Reliant uses one of those machines and operate it,” says Jamey.

Prior to obtaining his job, Drew and Jamey met weekly to work on job readiness, including resume development, interview skills, disclosing disabilities, social coaching, and covering Drew’s strengths and weaknesses. They then went right into job development where they began searching for and applying to available opportunities that interested Drew.

The goal is to find a job that fits each person’s skills and interests and allows them to be as independent as possible on the job. MOKA works with employers to find a job match that aligns with each person’s strengths.

Jamey also supported Drew with mobility training to get back and forth to work before he began his job with Reliant. “He took the Go2 bus to two Reliant offices for his orientation, so we had his transportation all set before he even started his job.”

Through his time at MOKA and Reliant, Drew’s social skills have blossomed. “His confidence has gone through the roof, his communication has gotten better, and his ability to self-advocate has tremendously improved,” says Jamey.

Drew is nearing his two-year anniversary with Reliant, and Jamey continues to provide long-term support by keeping in regular contact, visiting him on the worksite, and connecting with his supervisor at GE Aviation for progress reports.

Drew appreciates the support he receives from Jamey and others at MOKA. “They’ve had my back since day one,” says Drew. He also credits his co-workers at GE Aviation with being laid-back and helpful when he has questions.

Moving forward, Drew hopes to increase his independence by eventually getting to a point where he can live on his own. For now, he continues to serve as an example for other participants in the Employment Services Program who are seeking a job.

“Just look. You never know what you are going to find out there,” says Drew.

Story by Hannah Kater. Photo by Lara Parent.