One of the things that we have tried really hard to do over the last three years at The Arc of Loudoun on the Paxton Campus is to fill in the gaps where services and opportunities are lacking for adults and children with disabilities. One area that we have identified as an opportunity for us to embrace is in providing adults with disabilities a real, meaningful and enjoyable work experience. This spring we have hired three adults with disabilities (Self-Advocates) to work on the Campus in various capacities and it has been a wonderful experience for them and for the rest of our staff! One of our employees, Turhan Inetas, has especially touched our hearts.
Turhan is a young man that began working for the Campus in March. He is an adult with a traumatic brain injury that was caused by two brain surgeries for brain cancer, and then a resulting stroke after the surgeries. His first language is Turkish, and combined with his disability, understanding receptive language (especially English) is difficult. Thankfully, Turhan is not shy to tell us if we are talking too fast, or if he doesn’t understand what we are trying to communicate. He is eager, and he carries his Turkish to English dictionary with him everywhere. He is even studying to learn to drive and get a driver’s license.
He was originally hired to work in Maggie’s Closet, our free “store” for families in need. He washes all of the clothing that is donated, sorts it and hangs it by size for customers to shop. He comes to us with an enthusiasm for work that we’ve never seen before, and performs each task with joy and a huge smile. His job has expanded to include manning our convenience store, The Paxton Attraction, each morning, where he sells coffee from 8:30am to 9:30am each day. His pride in being in-charge of the store each day is obvious and he makes all of us smile…you can’t NOT smile when around Turhan.
When asked about his work here, he said that his life was sad before he found us. He said he had low energy and didn’t want to do much during the day. But, he explained that when he started working here, he realized that if you “have love, you have excitement and joy for that love.” And he found love here, at Paxton Campus. He has a love of his work, and our community; and it allows him to have energy to go throughout the day. He said, “All you have to do is find your love….and I found it here!”
And, we LOVE that he loves it here…We feel so fortunate that he is here each day to greet us with his smile and remind us all why we do this work.
Feel free to visit him at our Paxton Attraction convenience store, any weekday morning from 8:30am to 9:30am for great coffee and even better company!
Blog Post Written by Darcy Cunningham.