Work focus change goes inside, fills need

While a number of participants at ProAct make their way up and out of the work floor environment, some find the need to go from independent jobs to in-center work. That’s Austin Johnson’s story.

After working for Walgreens for nine years, others were noticing that his cleaning abilities were not as spot on as they had been in the past, his mother Claudia explains. There were new issues with balance, his speaking and writing abilities lessened and he spent some time in the hospital, his mother said.

The Cottage Grove family sought out other work options at ProAct in Eagan. “When we saw the floor, the workspace here in house where he can work and be supervised, it was almost like ‘Aha! That’s what he needs,’” said Johnson.

The mother said that everyone deserves to feel that they are contributing something to society, and individuals with disabilities can also undergo changes that require adjustments on the part of programs and work. It also took time, a couple of years, for Austin to get on the CADI waiver, which qualified him for services at ProAct.

The chance to work again also connected him with the ProAct community of people, while earning some money. He recently moved from the Employment program to Adult Day Services, which provides for more staff attention to his needs.

“I feel a sense of gratitude that these opportunities are there,” his mother said. “If Austin were to go out into the world, the community, he would be very frustrated.”

Austin lives on his own, participates and shares his preferences at his team meetings and has a strong interest in 1980s television shows.