My name is Joshua Stranix. I wanted to be employed from a young age. I began working in 1994 when I was 17 years old. The work mentor from my school tried to help me find a job before graduation. I wanted to be a teacher’s aide there, but unfortunately, I was told my judgmental thinking skills weren’t strong enough to do that.

I landed my first job in the summer of 1994 at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds. I pushed around a heavy wheelbarrow loaded with rocks. I was hot and sweaty and didn’t like the work at all, but I stayed for the summer because having a job was important to me. I did not want to give up.

Next, through the great resources at Goodwill, I got a job coach and began to work at a place that stuffed envelopes. I didn’t care much for that either because I was stuck in a small room with very little communication with other people. I continued to struggle to find a good job experience.

When I graduated high school in 1996, I applied for a job as a bagger at a local grocery store. As it turns out, the boss had a brother with Down Syndrome. I think that gave me an ‘in.’  I had a job coach for the first few weeks.  I loved that work. Being around the public, bagging groceries and talking a lot was what I wanted to do. I found my place! I stayed with the store until they went out of business a few years later.

I then moved on to two other grocery store jobs before landing my current position, which I’ve enjoyed for the last 18 years. I love my customers and most of my co-workers are a joy to work with. A few of my co-workers are not used to working within an inclusive workplace, I won’t let that stop me. I’ll stay with the company as long as I can because “I WANT TO WORK.”

By Joshua Stranix

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