In honor of October’s annual recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we introduce you to Robert, a participant of JEVS Project Success.

“I really want this job,” said 22-year-old Robert, watching the instruction video as the afternoon turned into a warm July evening.

Robert, from Philadelphia, not only got the job he wanted at the airport, he also gained a sense of independence and freedom, and discovered his own tenacity and persistence.

“When Robert came to us, he was very quiet,” said Jocobra Glenn, JEVS Project Success instructor/coach. “He wanted to get ready for employment, but we had to figure out what that meant for him—what interested him, what training he would need, what classes were most appropriate.”

“It was time for him to get out there in the world,” said Carmen, Robert’s mother. “He’s becoming a grown man, and part of that is taking responsibilities and being independent—so as protective as I am, I put it in God’s hands and Robert started working with Project Success.”

Working with job coaches Jacqueline Starr and Jocobra Glenn, Robert assisted in his own plan development—researching his career options while learning about effective on-the-job communication, travel to and from work, and pre-employment work readiness skills. When ready, Robert worked with JEVS Placement Counselor Richelieu Smith to locate the perfect position with Paramount Cleaning Solutions. Then, the application, interview and background check process loomed.

“In the beginning, I have to say the whole process was a little intimidating,” said Robert. “Navigating through the city on my own and going to Paramount almost daily to make sure I passed the training course was a bit of a challenge.”

“However, with growing persistence and confidence, and with Ms. Coby there every step of the way, I succeeded.”

“He was so determined,” said Glenn. “Sometimes when we enter a new work environment, it’s normal to be nervous or scared, or fearful of making a mistake. But Paramount has been a true partner, and Robert acclimated himself very quickly to the new environment.”

So quickly did Robert acclimate himself, in fact, that he received a gift, luncheon and a plaque for being chosen Employee of the Month in August.

“It makes you feel good to see the happiness that a job brings—a paycheck, but also self-esteem, confidence, independence and more,” said Glenn, who continues to follow-up twice a week with many of her clients and work site partners.

The theme of confidence is echoed by Carmen, the pride welling in her voice as she talks about both Robert and his younger brother, Elijah.

“He’s more assertive, for himself. He’s more independent, and his brother looks up to him,” she said. “I’m still his mom, and he’ll always be my baby, but I’m very, very proud.”

As for Robert, he has his sights set on new challenges in the future.

“I’m feeling pretty good about what the future holds for me and with the help of JEVS, I’m on the path to total independence. Since I’ve been working, I’m able to save money and do things that I would not have been able to do. Like go shopping for myself. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for JEVS in helping me build confidence. Thank you.”

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