Tony’s Transition to Employment
Tony Eckloff counts his years at Beacon Group by the number of holiday parties he has attended. To date, he has celebrated two holiday parties, and he is getting ready to celebrate his third.
Tony graduated from high school in 2014 and completed a special program at the University of Arizona in 2015-2016. Soon after, he started cleaning buses at Sun Tran through an employment program for people with disabilities with another Tucson nonprofit.
Tony came to Beacon in 2018 and joined the Transition to Employment (TTE) program. TTE, a 7-week curriculum with hands on learning components, provides meaningful and individualized job training. In both a classroom setting and throughout the community, students explore diverse work settings. They learn practical work-related skills like developing work positive behaviors, developing a resume and job related tools, and budgeting skills. Students also volunteer at community organizations when it is safe to do so. Tony enjoyed the TTE program immensely. “We were really going off site volunteering. We would do the food bank. The thrift store.” Tony continues, “We would go to job fairs and stuff like that. It was pretty good.”
Even more impressively, Tony took on a leadership role in TTE and mentored others by making copies for the instructors and providing support and leadership on volunteering trips. TTE instructor, Cynthia Gonzales praises Tony’s success in her course, “Tony has a very good personality and is aware of others’ feelings. When a student was down or something was bothering them, he took the time to talk to them. He listened to them and offered help. He has a very calming quality.”
During his time in TTE, Tony excelled and especially enjoyed the employment etiquette videos. He also credits TTE with teaching him how to be a self-advocate. Tony explains, “It showed me that even people with disabilities it doesn’t matter what disability it is that they can also self-advocate for themselves. Even if it is tough for them, they can still do it.”
Tony’s disabilities include intellectual disabilities related to Cerebral Palsy and the effects from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but he doesn’t let his disabilities hold him back. Currently, he is working in Beacon Group manufacturing while looking for employment. Here he continues his role as a mentor for coworkers. His job coach Magda compliments, “Tony is very reliable. His positive work ethic and attitude allow him to be a mentor for his co-workers.”
Tony’s long-term hope is achieving greater financial independence through employment and living in his own apartment. His advice to someone with a disability who is in the job search process, “Keep going out there and searching for a job. And then when you get that job, trying to show your best self at work. Also, you can do anything that comes to your heart or mind. You can do it. The most important thing is to never give up.”