Strictly Business 2016 honors three participants in JEVS Human Services’ programs who have overcome great obstacles and achieved their personal and career goals. Meet our first “Inspiration Award” winner, Josh Shusterman.
Taking his lunch break at 12 noon with a bologna sandwich and bottled water, 25-year-old Josh is happy to describe how he applies his background in human services to working in the “Job Club” room at PA CareerLink® in Center City, Philadelphia. It’s a bustling room, full of people on computers preparing for their job search and needing Josh’s assistance with résumé writing and online applications. “This is where I help people. People in need. I believe what goes around, comes around.”
Josh understands the challenges that his clients face; he remembers how it felt when he needed help. He and his parents–both doctors–turned to JEVS at a pivotal time in Josh’s life.
Josh was born with cerebral palsy and faced many obstacles growing up, including missing a lot of school because of multiple surgeries. Josh went on to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in human services and an associate’s in web design. He wanted to enter the workforce and live independently, so Josh became a member of JEVS’ Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN), which empowers young adults with disabilities in a supportive co-ed community so that they can live fulfilling lives.
“PIN changed the outcome of my whole entire life. I live in an apartment. I have a social life. I like to hang out with my friends, watch TV, play board games.”
JEVS staff also assisted Josh in obtaining his first job at the airport assisting people with disabilities, and then his current position at CareerLink, where he was hired this past June after volunteering initially. He has a second job at Subrogation Strategies.
“Josh is positive, shows dedication, and is eager to learn,” said Stephanie Blank from JEVS Supports Coordination, another JEVS program that ensures Josh is succeeding in his independence by providing assistance with his daily living, such as getting ready for work and preparing meals.
“Josh has a great work ethic. He hops on the train every morning to go to work, walking blocks to get to the train stops, never complaining and never missing a day,” said Stephanie. “Despite his disabilities and continuing seizures, he remains positive and pushes through the challenges by never giving up. Josh is an amazing person!”
“I don’t know if I see it [myself] as an inspiration, I just see it as daily living,” said Josh, when asked about his upcoming “Inspiration Award” from JEVS. “All I know is that my parents are proud of me every single day.”
With a solid support system of family, friends and JEVS staff in his corner, Josh is proving there’s no limitations. “I live one day at a time because you never know what’s gonna happen next. Your life is like a highway, it just takes you wherever you want to go.”
Josh is overjoyed after moving into a new apartment by himself last month. He’s slowly filling the space, buying paintings for the walls. But, he also admits he wants to save his money and tackle one more milestone: “Now, my goal is to find a girlfriend!”