Being an active member of her community was key in landing Elyse P. the position of crossing guard, and also helps in her two other jobs.

Working as a crossing guard has its perks, among them being you only have to show up twice a day for an hour or so. That leaves a lot of time in between, maybe for a nap after the early morning shift?

“I could sleep then,” agreed Elyse P., who has been a crossing guard at Merion Elementary School for the past two years. “But I also have two other jobs.”

Elyse is a member of JEVS Independence Network, a program that empowers young adults with disabilities to live independent and full lives while receiving the supports they need to achieve their life goals. Participants live in their own apartments and are active members of their communities, and each member receives a customized mix of services, including independent living skill instruction, organized social activities, and employment support and coaching.

Elyse credits the employment support she received with helping her find the job as a crossing guard. “It was all Madeline,” said Elyse, referring to Madeline Schlusser, the Career Navigator for Independence Network.

“I saw the ad and thought of Elyse,” said Schlusser. “She was seeking part-time employment and wanted a job that she could walk to. Additionally, Elyse did not want an office or retail job because of her sensory needs. I knew Elyse was a responsible, reliable, and considerate individual, all qualities required of the position.”

“The police chief was very impressed with her and liked that she was really involved in the Narberth community.”

With Elyse’s resume in good shape, Schlusser worked with her on interview preparation, and even accompanied her to the interview with Narberth Police Chief John Gallagher. “The interview went really well — she got hired on the spot! The police chief was very impressed with her and liked that she was really involved in the Narberth community.”

Independence Network members in Narberth — like their compatriots at the second Independence Network location in Collingswood, New Jersey — are known for actively showing up to volunteer at neighborhood events year round. That community involvement paid off with a job offer.

After the interview, Elyse relates that she was relieved but also a little anxious, especially about getting up so early. “I’m not a morning person,” she said.

Elyse in front of the entrance to Merion Elementary on a recent rainy day.

For the first few days on the job, she was accompanied by Schlusser, who acted as a job coach and helped her get a routine in place. “She was really excited,” said Schlusser. “She had a lot of questions. There was a police officer there on the first day to give her some pointers. After that we were on our own. She caught on fast!”

After Elyse’s first week, Chief Gallagher wrote to Schlusser to report that Elyse was doing very well and that he had received several phone calls from parents praising her good work.

Despite the ups and downs brought on by the pandemic, and having to get up early for the morning shift, Elyse enjoys the job. “It’s great when the weather is nice. A lot of the kids say hi.”

An anime character drawn by Elyse. “It’s a character that I created when I was 13. I’ve been drawing her solely for the last 18 years. Her name is Kaila. At that time, I had thought I had made it up, but I later learned it was a real name.”

Working with children is part of her second job, which is teaching elementary school age children with disabilities how to draw anime. The classes are part of her work with GET Café, a community center in Narberth that offers competitive integrated employment opportunities to neurodiverse individuals and provides a space where individuals with disabilities and their families can experience community involvement in an inclusive way.

Though her classes on are on hold right now due to the pandemic, this is a job Elyse is looking forward to getting back to soon. “I never thought I would end up working with kids,” she laughed.

Elyse pet sitting with Cooper, a Cockapoo, and Louie, a Pomeranian.

Her third job has also slowed a bit due to Covid-19, but it is one that remains close to her heart. “I pet sit for people in the community,” said Elyse, who finds clients through connections made from her volunteer experiences in Narberth, and also through an app called Rover. “I get mostly dogs, but I did do a guinea pig once and also a gecko. I love birds but haven’t had a chance to do one yet.”

Elyse enjoys all three of her jobs in the community and is thankful to be a part of Independence Network for the past eight years. “It’s been really helpful. I would recommend it to anyone looking for support, inclusion, and socialization. There’s nothing else like this and I feel like it has made a real difference in my life.”


Learn more about JEVS Independence Network >


Posted in Blog Client Spotlight JEVS Program: Independence Network