Mike Gregory is on a journey to integrated employment. Currently, he works in a training position with a local community business as a landscape maintenance person. Here he takes pride in fixing things when others cannot. “I love my job on the yard crew. I love it when they can’t get anything running. I get it running.”
Mike is a native Oregonian. He grew up in the farmlands of the Central Willamette Valley, where he learned the value of work from his mother. “By working hard, good things follow.” She also taught him self-respect, honesty, integrity, and the value of supporting each other.
Mike’s interest in making things and helping others began in high school. Once, he found some sheet metal that someone threw away and used it to make an oil funnel for his mom’s truck. After graduation, Mike left home. He bounced around different jobs and living situations until he met “Blondie,” a residential service provider. Mike’s relationship with Blondie turned out to be pivotal.
During the time that he lived with her, working became central to his life. He began to pursue work experiences that involved his strengths and interests. Mike found that he has strong organizational skills, likes being the boss, and “can build anything out of wood.” Besides building things, he also enjoys working with machines, being around people, and being “out and about – workin,’ shoppin,’ going places.”
Now, Mike lives in his own apartment with supports and his beloved cat. “I have my job, my apartment, and Grandpa Kitty.” Mike is connected to his community and enjoys his independence. His friends and coworkers live nearby, and his mom frequently visits. He travels, listens to country music, and lives by rules familiar to most of us—be trustworthy and loyal. Don’t be late to work. Let others talk. Be a friend. Eat good food, and most importantly, don’t forget to clean the litter box.
When asked why he works, he laughs, “Cause I make money. I’m savin’ for a trip. Goin’ to Hawaii… And Grandpa needs food too.”
Mike is a hard worker. Last year, he received the Oregon Rehabilitation Association’s Worker of the Year award for his outstanding performance with The Lawn Rangers Yard Maintenance Company in Independence. “I loved that. Felt good and important.” His mom was with him when he received the award. “Mom cried ‘cause she really liked it. I think she was proud of me.”
Mike has learned what he likes and does best from previous work experience and his current job on the yard crew. Using this information, he’s identified his dream job at Roth’s, a grocery store near where he lives. His employment services provider is following Mike’s lead to develop an opportunity there “working with groceries, putting stuff in freezers, putting things away, movin’ shipments off of big trucks, building stacks of things on end aisles and helping people find stuff.” If a good fit is created, Mike will reach a huge milestone in his journey to integrated employment.