Drew is a hard-working employee at The Arc of Loudoun. He’s been a member of the STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment) Program for two years, which is a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. He first discovered The Arc of Loudoun after he and his mom attended the ALLY Advocacy Center’s Transition Series, a workshop that helps families with young adults with disabilities transition out of the public school system at age 22.
Drew, who has high-functioning autism, says he’s incredibly grateful for STEP Up, and is always excited to go to work every morning! He takes pride in his daily tasks, which range from changing light bulbs to mulching and mowing the 17-acre grounds of Paxton. Once his morning shift is over, Drew participates in STEP Up’s afternoon enrichment activities.
“I enjoy visits from Nic the therapy dog and taking field trips to places like the National Air and Space Museum,” he says. “But going to Top Golf is my personal favorite!”
Not only is Drew an employee The Arc of Loudoun, he’s also an advocate for people with special needs. Since participating in The Arc’s self-advocacy and public speaking group Speak Up, Drew has learned how to advocate for himself. Last year, Drew and other members of Speak Up traveled to Richmond; where he had the opportunity to speak directly to state lawmakers about transportation and group homes for people with disabilities.
Drew says he’s also learned how to be safe in the community through programs like ALLY’s ‘PILE’ (Positive Interaction with Law Enforcement) initiative on campus. This program teaches law enforcement personnel how to interact and with people with disabilities. Drew explains that programs like these are one of the reasons why The Arc of Loudoun is important to him saying,
”Being here helps to keep me safe. I have special needs, I have high-functioning autism. There are a lot of people with special needs around here, and Paxton benefits the whole community!”