October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This month, Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. highlights individuals served by the organization. With programs that keep young people and others safely home and out of institutions, YAP provides intensive mentorship/advocate support while connecting individuals and their families with tools that help them thrive. Recently, Michael Silvis, recipient of one of the tools -- the YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Scholarship for Continued Education -- shared how a new Central, Pa. transportation company helps him get to and from work. Beyond that, the service gives him a wonderful social life.
What was my life like before Compassion Transport? In a word – boring. I occasionally use the service for work, but it’s really made the biggest difference in my social life.
I have a slow learning disability. When you have a mental disability, you know it. People know. They’re like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I was in special ed. It’s harder for people like us when people don’t know us. With Compassion, I know the drivers and they know me.
So the difference for me now is I get to go places. I just turned 30. For young people like me, living in the area where I live, there’s not a lot going on. I work at the plant that makes Musselman’s applesauce. I pick out bad apples on the line. Now I’m able to go further out after work instead of just sticking to what’s around here.
The very first time I used Compassion Transport was almost two years ago. I went to DC to a comic convention. It felt pretty good just knowing I had that service. I got to stay all day. I mainly went to meet the wrestlers that were there. And I did get to meet them! It was an awesome experience. I kind of knew it was going to be a pretty lengthy day. We find out where the event is. We pick a pick-up time and then they bring you back. Usually if it’s a long day, it’s the owner, Allan, who takes me and picks me up.
Rock is my favorite genre of music. Last year, I went to Silver Spring. I went to see Marilyn Manson. That was pretty awesome. Two weeks ago, I went to Hershey to see Ozzy Osbourne. I also went to Hershey for WWE. I go to Special Olympics, too. About four months ago, I started a second job. I work part-time as a housekeeper. I mostly save money from that job for trips. I might go to one of two trips this year.
I was going to Harrisburg Community College and soon I’ll start taking online courses. I want a job where I can work with the elderly. I don’t have a girlfriend, but maybe I’ll meet somebody. It’s good to know there’s a service out there that’s willing to go where you want to go.