Some see a disability, HOPE sees potential.
Alex is 22 years old and has autism. He is a recent graduate of a Hope training program where he worked as an intern at Lucile Packard Children's and Stanford Hospitals in surgical pathology. With guidance from Hope, he caught on quickly, and made friends with his co-workers, an achievement that often eludes people with autism. Today, thanks to funders like you, Alex lives independently and works at a lab where he is responsible for sterilization and eyewashes. Help us create more bright futures for people like Alex.
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San Jose Mercury News | December 2014
Autistic Lab Worker Flourishes at Biomedical Company
Alex Go lifted the sealed medical boxes from Italy and Spain, then placed them softly onto a small counter. They contained dozens of vials of blood from expectant mothers seeking information about the health of their babies. Go is the first one at Ariosa Diagnostics, a global prenatal testing company, to handle the vials.
"We have lots of specimens but very little space," he said with a smile. It wasn't a gripe as much as a nice problem to have for both the growing San Jose company and the 22-year-old autistic laboratory worker.
Not too long ago, adults with autism rarely held sensitive jobs like this, if they ever got them at all.
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Jenny, who has been blind since birth, has a creative spirit and thirst for exploring the world that has truly shaped her life since joining HOPE Supported Living Services in February 2009. Jenny had lived her entire life in a group home. She searched for a SLS agency for years and was turned down by all of them, until she found HOPE. Her life changed immediately. One of the simple pleasures that she continues to enjoy is brewing her own coffee everyday. She now makes her own food choices, almost always leaning towards the healthier option, and no longer experiences the regular heartburn that she had before. Whether she's skiing down a white mountain slope, or sweating it out in Bikram yoga, or floating in the atmosphere in a hot air balloon, being in supported living has given Jenny a new life. She has had to learn how to manage her own schedule – to figure out how to balance learning independent skills with pursuing all the fun activities that pique her interest.
Jenny's life is an everyday adventure. In addition to her summer Women's Retreat and attending Joni & Friends camp every year, in 2010, she'll be touring wineries in Napa Valley in August, and she's going on a surfing vacation in Hawaii in October. With regular massage therapy and acupuncture treatment, weekly yoga classes of different varieties, Jenny is grateful for the help with activity planning that she gets from her HOPE support team.
Jenny has an "individualized day program" through supported living. Jenny's staff work with her one on one with coordinating activities, staying healthy and fit, exploring the community, and creating art. Jenny recently created a set of delicately hand rolled candles made from real beeswax, which she is selling for $7 at the HOPE Senior Center in Aptos, CA and the HOPE office in downtown Santa Cruz, CA. "Art is a way of keeping busy and expressing myself," Jenny said, "While I am doing art I think about how good it could be and I hope that people will like it." You can also email email@example.com if you would like to support Jenny's art by purchasing one of her handmade candles.
Every week, Jenny takes classes with Jon Bailiff, who is teaching her to spin her own yarn. She uses this yarn to create art projects, such as a square foot woven rug that she plans on presenting at the Santa Cruz County Fair.