Joshua Stranix, Legislative Advocate for the #IWantToWork campaign, has served on the Board of Directors for The Arc of Pennsylvania since 2010 (he’s also Board secretary), been employed at Giant Foods since 1999 and has held various offices with the Special Olympics for 28 years. Josh educates others with intellectual disabilities on their rights and what services are available to help them have an inclusive life.
Q: How you first got involved with The Arc of PA and the #IWantToWork Campaign?
A: I got involved with Arc in 2010 because I wanted to be an advocate for people with disabilities. I enjoy being on the #IWantToWork Campaign because I like going to The state capital and talking to legislators about the need for funding and services to help people with disabilities gain employment. People with disabilities deserve to have a job that utilizes their talents and one they enjoy.
Q: What’s most surprising to you about current employment of people with disabilities?
A: Most all of my friends have disabilities and the majority work in day programs or the greenhouse. They don’t get paid much.
Q: Tell us about some of the people you’ve met through your employment.
A: I have an older friend, named Clinton. He is a cashier, among other things. I like to be the bagger in his line because we make customers laugh. There are customers who specifically try to get into our line because they know we are always happy.
Q: Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to join the workforce.
A: I had a teacher in high school named Mr. R. When I was still in high school, he was my job coach. I had wanted to be a teacher’s aide, but that job wasn’t available.
After high school, I had a job coach from Goodwill. We worked together until I applied and interviewed for my job at Giant. The coach helped me learn the skills I needed. I think a job coach is necessary if you need to learn new skills.
Q: If you weren’t working, what would you be doing instead? What would your life be like?
A: I would work more in Harrisburg as a legislative advocate. I would stay on the Arc of PA Board. I would also continue to be a Global Messenger and Athlete Rep. for Special Olympics. I hope I could get more speaking gigs to keep myself busy. I don’t like being bored. I hope that someday I’ll find that one special girl.
Q: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I like to watch WWE Wrestling on TV and surf the internet. I also really enjoy bus trips with my Mom for shows, traveling with my parents, and eating out. My bucket list contains an independent trip to Salt Lake City to visit my sister and her family.
Q: How long did it take to find your first employment opportunity?
A: My first trial job started in the summer of 1994. I was still in high school. They had a team of us working at the Schuylkill County Fair. Before I got to Giant, I tried envelope stuffing and sorting. BOY! I sure learned what I didn’t want to do with my life. Now, I have my perfect job at Giant. I love the job and the customers.
Q: Why do you think people with disabilities make great employees?
A: We are hard workers and learn new skills if we’re taught. Sometimes we are slower and take longer to learn. But once the skills are there, LOOK OUT!! The job just must be a good fit for the employer and employee.
Q: What attitudes make you great at the jobs you have now?
A: I have a positive attitude and I’m happy almost all of the time. I just really enjoy my job and my life
Q: What advice would you give to others with a disability who are looking for employment?
A: They could go to OVR and ask for a job coach. Goodwill has great job coaches too. Transportation services are available so employees can get to their jobs.