Lon Gilbert was an honorably discharged Army Veteran working as a welder when his life changed significantly. On February 27, 2014, at the age of 33, Lon suffered a stroke that left him with extreme difficulty in understanding language and communicating verbally. Since then, Lon has worked hard with his speech pathologist to regain some of his language skills and with Community NeuroRehab of Iowa to rebuild his independence with basic living skills.
Community NeuroRehab helped Lon apply for a job as an usher at Coral Ridge Cinema in December of 2016 and sought job coaching for Lon from Goodwill. Lon started out needing job coaching throughout his shifts at the theater. His coaches had to show him the tasks and describe things slowly so he could understand the instructions. Lon immediately showed he was a detail-oriented worker, not only by thoroughly completing his usher duties, but by taking photos of any maintenance issues that he noted. With the support of his job coach, Lon relayed those issues to theater management.
As Lon continued to be successful in his theater job, his job coaching faded. Lon currently works 16.5 hours per week during the busy weekend times. The manager also gave Lon a monthly 8-hour shift where he performs maintenance duties throughout the theater because he has proven to be a strong problem solver and handyman. Lon is also willing to pick up extra shifts at the movie theater and took on extra work at Thanksgiving and Christmas, the busiest times of the year.
Ultimately Lon would like to get back into welding. He recently attended a welding class. The instructor determined that Lon’s skills are great, gave him a letter of recommendation and said Lon did not even need to finish the class. Lon is currently working with Goodwill staff to search for welding positions. Lon says that when he gets back into welding, he wants to keep his monthly maintenance shift at the theater because that is largely where he regained his confidence and independence.