Neil set a goal of learning his job at Panera and performing his duties on his own without any help from his job coach. Initially, Neil was somewhat hesitant to make choices or decisions on his own on how to progress through his work shift, but he learned to use a task list and how to adhere to a work routine. Neil also had serious reservations about communicating with people who might be less-than-familiar to him. For example, many of his co-workers and supervisors at the restaurant are part time workers who Neil may only encounter from time to time. Also, nearly all of the customers with whom Neil would need to interact are people he has never met. This made Neil very hesitant to engage in either conversation or communicate needs or questions.
Neil worked VERY hard to find the courage to talk to new people and this was a major turning point for him in being able to work on his own. Once he was able to find his own answers from his managers and co-workers, his job coach became much less needed, and eventually, he was able to simply work on his own with only the natural supports of his co-workers.
Neil’s incredible progress acquiring the skills needed to work independently is why he was selected by Goodwill as the 2018 Edgar Townsend Achiever Winner.