Jonathan Rosales has always enjoyed shopping at Best Buy. He really appreciated their excellent customer service. On one of his shopping trips, he expressed an interest in employment and inquired about any possible job openings that they may have. The sales person directed Jon to use the company website to fill out a job application. Jon also contacted PathPoint, a nonprofit that assists people with disabilities in finding employment. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jon has been employed with Best Buy for two years now and they have a great working relationship. Jon has never let his cerebral palsy dampen his determination. Tawny Lopez, Jon’s Service Coordinator at TCRC acknowledged his strong work ethic. “When I first met Jonathan, I was impressed by his motivation to gain new employment. He strives to be excellent in his work and many other areas of his life. I love his drive. Jonathan knows what he wants and he’ll work tirelessly to get it.”

Jon has received services through Tri-Counties Regional Center since 2013. He’s lived in a variety of settings: a family home, group homes and an intermediate care facility, finally reaching his goal of independent living through Supported Living Services. A huge part of reaching this goal was competitive employment. He appreciates being able to receive services like this due to the Lanterman Act. “It allows me to inspire people to be their best,” Jon said.

Jon works with his Support Plan Coordinator from PathPoint, Brad Hunt. Brad, along with a Job Coach, help Jon establish work goals, learn new skills, and work through employment-related challenges. Brad listed the ingredients for Jon’s success. “He is driven by a will to succeed and overcome challenges. Jon has a strong work ethic, and he’s flexible with the hours assigned to him. Despite his challenges, his positive attitude, dedication, and professionalism all feed into his recipe for success.” Jon’s coworkers at Best Buy have praised his reliability. He has a long bus ride to and from work, but he’s always on time.

Due to physical limitations resulting from cerebral palsy, Jon had to overcome a few obstacles to be able to perform his job. Best Buy stepped right up and met Jon’s challenges head on and furnished him with state of the art adaptive technology. He has a hands-free headset to help him communicate with customers and coworkers and they are currently working on integrating a speech-to-text software program. This will allow Jon to recall and input information as fast as he can speak, and not have to use a manual keyboard. Best Buy also modified Jon’s work area with a special desk allowing him to get closer to the computer. “I really appreciated that. I wrote them a thank you letter for doing all that.” Jon recalled. With his new customized workspace in place, Jon jumped right in as a team member fielding calls, helping customers with their online orders, and tracking inventory among other customer service related duties.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is about double the rate for people without disabilities. Hopefully more employers like Best Buy continue to tap into this under utilized workforce. It’s a great way for companies to diversify their teams and perhaps even take advantage of available tax incentives. “I’ve seen and received feedback from numerous employers throughout the community, and have been told that many of their employees with special needs are some of the most dedicated and valued employees they have,” according to Brad. The value of employment should not be underestimated. An individual’s opportunity to work and contribute help foster independence and define their identity and place within the community.

There are many facets to Jon’s motivation to work. He is an enterprising young man, eager to live an independent life, but he also wants to set an example for others with disabilities. “I decided to apply for a job for various reasons,” he explained. “I wanted to show people in my life that I could be on my own and be independent and get a job, and also to encourage others in my situation that you can get better by working and showing that you can do something positive with your life.”

Now, as a Best Buy employee, Jon has the opportunity to provide others with the exemplary service that he enjoyed as a customer. “Having a job has changed my life,” Jon shared, “I’ve learned to mature in different ways and areas in my life and being around people, and meeting new people. I just love the people I work with. They’re very caring, understanding, and helpful. I love the fact that I don’t feel like I’m the oddball out; I feel I’m a part of the team.”