By Emma Slier, Special to the Democrat, Tallahassee Democrat, Oct. 13, 2012
TALLAHASSEE- Meeting Brandon Garrett is like looking through a keyhole into an art gallery where you can only see a small part of a great work of art.
Garrett, 23, is the oldest of four siblings. He is quiet and hard-working. He works at The Seineyard restaurant in the Lake Ella Plaza in Tallahassee about 20 hours a week as a dishwasher.
Garrett’s supervisor, Colby Lawhon, appreciates him and his hard work. “I wouldn’t trade Brandon for anything. It is great to work with him,” Lawhon said.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities is highlighting the contributions of people with disabilities to the workforce. Garrett has a developmental disability and receives services from APD.
He found his job completely on his own. “Brandon would regularly get up in the morning, then go to local businesses and ask if they had a job for him. Because of this determination to work, he found his job at The Seineyard a year ago,” said Maria Jones, his mother.
Garrett now has assistance from a job coach provided by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
He has many reasons that he enjoys working. “I like getting a paycheck, saving it, and helping my mom with the bills when needed,” Garrett said.
Garrett has become a role model for his younger brothers, and he’s been known to give advice to them about getting a job. He tells his 17-year-old brother how to make a better impression in an interview by improving his appearance and following up with the managers after applying.
Garrett has beaten the odds. When he was 6, a doctor told his mother that he would never finish school, and never function independently. Garrett and his mother would not allow that judgment to dictate his life and it certainly hasn’t.
Although Garrett enjoys his job, washing dishes isn’t his ultimate career goal. He enjoys cooking at home, and may take some culinary classes to become a chef. Garrett says in the future he plans to live independently, but that he’s not ready just yet. His mom is certainly supportive of this goal, noting that anything is possible when it comes to her children.
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-273-2273.