Andrew Lytle was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. He and his family did not allow his disability to keep him from daily life activities or his education. After graduating from McAlester High School in 2003, and having interest in the technology field, Andrew decided to further his education by attending Kiamichi Technology Center for one year. Shortly thereafter, he and his family moved from McAlester, Oklahoma to Ben Wheeler, Texas. His father became a pastor for a small church in town and his mother was also able to obtain employment in Tyler, Texas. Andrew began attending Tyler Junior College where he obtained an Associate degree in General Studies. Andrew said that he felt like he accomplished a lot when he got his degree, but still wanted to do something with his life. He wished to help his family by bringing in another source of income to assist with bills. His family, always encouraging, supported his decision to find employment and become more independent.
Understanding that Andrew would need specialized help, his parents found just what they needed through DARS (Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services) who then referred Andrew to the Goodwill Industries of East Texas Job Placement Division. Andrew began working with Employment Specialist, Kyla Carbert who assisted him in learning the important skills related to seeking a job such as: interviewing, how to dress, how to put a resume together and what it takes to keep a job once you do find one. Learning more about Andrew’s skills and talents, Kyla encouraged him to apply to one of Goodwill’s embedded training programs called SHIP (Suddenlink Hiring Initiative Program). Andrew was accepted and attended an eight week training program. Now working with his new Goodwill Job Coach, Kammy Locascio, Andrew not only received “hands on” training from Kammy, but mentoring from Suddenlink and assistance from others who were also in the program. He loved it! His dreams and interest in working with technology were now within his reach. Eight weeks flew by and Andrew could not have been happier to accept Suddenlink’s offer of a Customer Service Representative position. This would be his first real job in the real world.
Through his new job at Suddenlink, Andrew feels that not only has his confidence and self- image increased, but he has made many new friends throughout the call center.
He enjoys going to work every day not just for the income (which is helpful!) but for the social outlet as well. He and his family love the fact that he can enjoy the feeling of responsibility, self- respect and contribution. He has become more independent and self- motivated.
Here are some of Andrew’s own words about Goodwill, the people who coached him and advice for others:
“Working with people at Goodwill helped to provide me with the confidence I needed to succeed in the job. Kyla worked with me for a long time to find out all of my interests and skills. Kammy was very patient, took the time to teach me what I needed to learn and listened to all of my questions.
My advice to others is to always be willing to learn and adapt to any situation. The more you practice, the easier things become. Make sure you communicate your concerns, wants and needs. My family is proud of me and I now feel like I am a productive, responsible person.”
Now one of Andrew’s favorite parts of the day is to come home and have his dog greet him after a long day of work.
Goodwill’s Kyla Carbert, talks about Andrew and how proud she is of him. “I felt good about Andrew’s self- motivation. We attended many job fairs and researched different job opportunities, but Andrew always went back to his interest in Suddenlink. I was confident he would be successful there..”
Kammy Locascio, Goodwill’s Job Coach, remembers Andrew as a somewhat reserved individual in the beginning. She stated that he was nervous about making his family proud of him and perhaps not making it through the job training program. Some personal family issues made things even more difficult, but Andrew’s determination and confidence grew. He became more talkative and outgoing. He ended up as one of the highest performers in the training group of 16.
Kammy explains: “He then had to overcome the transition of classroom to the call center floor. He struggled with the multitasking and the various customer assistance computer programs. But with a willingness to listen to Goodwill’s job coaching, and a lot of practice, Andrew was able to make sales, assist customers and handle all the details without the slightest frustration! I was proud to watch him grow from a nervous, reserved individual to the confident, charismatic person he is today. His optimistic attitude toward work and life in general make Andrew inspirational to me.”
Goodwill Industries of East Texas wishes to acknowledge DARS and the support they give each and every day to allow this type of training and job coaching to take place. Through their referrals as well as local community donations, Goodwill has been able to assist and place many other individuals who have a barrier to employment. If you have interest in finding out more about Goodwill Industries partnership with DARS and are in need of services, please click this link :Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services