Find Your Passion and Pursue It

Lemuel_BGWhen you first meet and talk to Lemuel, you wouldn’t necessarily know that he has a disability. And that’s just the point.

Lemuel had a seizure when he was just eight months old. Seizures can change the way a brain is wired. In Lemuel’s case, this resulted in a learning disability. As Lemuel grew, his parents noticed a difference in how he absorbed and retained new information. Lemuel says that he sometimes has difficulty processing things and that he relies more on visual learning than auditory. Show him, don’t tell him.

Fortunately for Lemuel, his parents intervened and got him help at an early age. He was mainstreamed in school – but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was accepted. When his sister began attending the same high school, she realized that he was being bullied behind his back. Proud of her brother, and protective, she stood up for him. That protective instinct carries forward. Today, she is 22 and studying criminal justice.

Lemuel graduated high school at 18 with little idea of what he wanted to do. Trying to find employment in a difficult economy without advanced education or a clear focus was extremely challenging.

His parents enrolled him in Independent Living Services (ILS), understanding that this was the first step to a self-reliant life. Lemuel credits ILS with helping him to gain vital independence skills including mastering public transportation, learning money management, assuming household responsibilities, and navigating life. It helped him to be more self-sufficient – and more confident.

He credits his family with helping him to achieve his dreams. At 20, Lemuel got his driver’s license. Today, at 24, he is employed at PRIDE Industries supporting two of our customers: Mighty Leaf Tea and Green Toys. But this is only the beginning.

His father inspired his love of cars and car repair. He learned the basics of auto mechanics by working on his father’s Toyota, which he proudly drives today. And while he knows Japanese makes inside and out –his face lights up when he talks about the Mustang and Camaro. Lemuel’s next goal is to attend community college to become an auto mechanic.

“From the first day that he has started at PRIDE, he has been a pleasure to work with,” says Justin Underwood, his counselor. “Lemuel is respectful, courteous and kind to everyone that he makes contact with. He is a very reliable employee and is always willing to help others in time of need.”

At PRIDE, Lemuel learned how to expand upon his ILS skills and apply them to the workplace. Justin helps him with job skills training while Lemuel builds his resume experience. Asked what has been most valuable, Lemuel says: “having a strong work ethic, teamwork, and focus.”

Most importantly, Lemuel has expanded his horizons and sees new possibilities. He has made new friends here and at home. Outside of work he’s into health, nutrition and fitness. And he hopes someday to have his own family to carry on the family name. But today – it’s enough to focus on job and career. “Lemuel has been a great asset,” says Justin. “I am confident he will continue to do great things with his career path.”

We asked him what advice he would give himself if he could go back in time to those difficult high school years. He said it is the same advice he’d give to others: “Find something that interests you and pursue it.”

Lemuel may learn differently than others – but you can see that he’s not so different in his dreams and aspirations. He just needed the opportunity.

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