It has been said if you enjoy what you do you will never work a day in your life. The road to finding that job can be a winding one. Julio’s road to employment is no exception.
Julio’s journey to employment began with a chance encounter in 2012 with a mother and her son. The son was blind, just like Julio. The mother informed Julio of an organization called BLIND, Inc. that could help Julio master the skills that would lead to sustained success.
In his year and a half with the organization, Julio learned many of the skills that others take for granted, like cooking, navigating public transportation and how to use a cane to walk by himself. Julio recalls that some of his proudest accomplishments were crafting furniture in woodshop. “First what I did, was a jewelry box then a toolbox — after that, I did a big dresser with eight drawers.”
Following his time at BLIND, Inc., Julio was referred to Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota from State Services for the Blind. He began work with Colleen, a GESMN career specialist who specializes in working with people with disabilities and seeking supportive jobs with opportunities for advancement. Colleen partnered with Julio to cultivate his employment dreams and helped find him a job at a local Hy-Vee grocery store.
Julio began his first shift in September of 2016 working in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Although he was praised for his hard work and positive attitude, it was not an ideal fit for Julio. “I was washing the dishes, but I did not see any people — only the music there,” Julio says.
Because of his outstanding work ethic and natural charisma, Julio moved to the position of bagger in January of 2017. To say that he has excelled would be an understatement. Julio stepped right into his role without additional coaching from his GESMN career specialist, and since then he’s received high praise from managers and customers alike. His job coach calls him a positive, inspiring force in their workplace, and reports that they sometimes sing together while they work.
Only small changes in cashiers’ workflow are required to have Julio join them in their lane. They work as a team: cashiers tell Julio what items are coming toward him and whether they need to be bagged, and Julio sorts and sets them aside by weight. His cashier coworkers say that Julio enhances their performances.
When he's asked about his dream job, Julio enthusiastically states, "A bagger. A bagger is a good thing for me."
GESMN staff have learned so much from Julio about perseverance, but even more about the power of work and the joy that can be found in chasing your dreams.