Walter Lodi is a retired teacher and job placement coordinator at Worcester Vocational High School. In his first 19 years, he was a classroom teacher teaching mechanical drawing and math. He then served as a job placement cooperative education counselor helping students to find internships, place them in cooperative education and help them find a permanent position in their respective trade upon graduation.
Walter moved to Cape Cod and was looking for volunteer opportunities when he heard through friends at the gym about CORD’s Bridges to Success program. The program provides one-to-one mentoring and helps young adults ages 17-26 with learning or intellectual disabilities obtain the skills they need to secure employment. It was a good fit with Walter’s background and he jumped on board.
For any young adult, finding the first few jobs can be hard to do. Many new job-seekers are unfamiliar with the employment process of locating jobs, filling out applications, and speaking with employers during an interview. Young adults with disabilities face additional roadblocks. Julian didn’t know where to start.
Walter first met Julian at a dinner CORD hosted for the Bridges program. From the first instant he met Julian, he could tell Julian was invested and eager to find a part time job. He was a very people oriented young man, interested in sports, and open to help. During a series of additional meetings and calls, Walter learned more about Julian’s job interests and helped him refine his resume. Walter then contacted various employment agencies to find local opportunities appropriate for Julian’s skills and desires. “Every time I told him ‘Julian this is something that you might be interested in,’ he would follow up on it. Every lead,” said Walter.
Julian’s parents were very supportive, willing to drive him to and from his interviews as Julian did not have a driver’s license and was not yet comfortable with public transportation. Within 1½ weeks, Julian was offered a position at Whole Foods.
“When I found out that Julian did get the position, I was very happy,” said Walter. “When I saw him after that, I could see from the look on his face that he was he was very proud of himself.”
Through the relationship with his mentor Walter, Julian continues to receive ongoing guidance along the path towards independence and full-participation in his community. He has been working at Whole Foods for four months and they are participating in a transportation workshop together to further his independence.
“If you have a disability, don’t be discouraged,” says Julian. “You can overcome any challenges you may have.”
“Being a mentor for Bridges has been very rewarding for me. Being able to help young adults find employment and seeing how appreciative they are is extremely rewarding. I hope to help more kids like Julian get a good start in adult life,” says Walter.