If you ask Johnny Yankovich what he likes about having a job, he’ll tell you straight out – “I like earning money.” Some of that money, he’s happy to say, he likes to spend on his greatest passion – dinosaurs.
It wasn’t long after graduating from Susquehanna High School in 2015, that Johnny, who turns 25 in December, landed a job at Crescent Industries, the employee-owned, custom injection molding and tool building company in New Freedom, Pa. September marked his third year there as an Assembly Specialist, and his father Michael can’t believe how quickly the time has flown.
A Smooth Transition
Johnny’s road to Crescent began in High School, when in his last year he participated in Penn-Mar’s Exploration and Discovery (E&D) process, the first step in the nonprofit’s Competitive Employment Program. Michael credits Johnny’s life skills teacher Tom Laure and classroom aid Toni Shearer for recommending Penn-Mar, who with a grant was able to work with Johnny to learn about his interests, and identify his skills and talents, and the kind of work he would like to do. In the process they also began job development.
“Penn-Mar was able to see Johnny in his school environment and life skills work environment,” said Michael. “They also saw him apply his skills working his afternoon jobs for an hour and a half at different area businesses, where Johnny learned a key life lesson at Good Will when he received his first paycheck of $21!”
“The E&D program helped Johnny transition to the Penn-Mar Day Program two weeks after graduating High School. I hope the E&D process is something every special needs person in High School can experience.”
The very first part-time job Penn-Mar was able to find for Johnny immediately out of High School was with Hoffman Die Cast Technologies, but almost as soon as he started, the company moved and his position ended. Several months later, however, the Employment Team found him his position at Crescent, coincidentally and conveniently only a short walk from the Yankovich home.
At the same time Johnny started working, he also began participating in and splitting his time, when not at Crescent, between Penn-Mar’s Day and In-Home Programs. As Courtney Harless, PA Employment Support Manager, described it, the In-Home Program provides Johnny with one-on-one support out in the community. It fosters engagement and opportunities to work on goals such as life skills, socializing, and money management.
“Johnny’s transition from high school into a job and the Day Program went very smoothly,” said Courtney. “He was well prepared.”
On the Job
At Crescent, Johnny has his own work station, where he assembles parts for various dental products. Michael either drops him off by car or walks him down to work in the morning to clock in at 8 a.m. Once his shift is over at noon, a Penn-Mar van takes him to the Day Program.
“Johnny takes his job very seriously,” said Courtney. “He does a really good job and his employers absolutely love him.”
“Working at Crescent has been really meaningful,” said Michael. “It’s also tangible, he sees results in the work he does, not only in the products that he assembles, but in the paycheck that he earns. It also drives Johnny to get himself to bed on his own, and he wakes up on his own eager to go to work!”
Rick Krout, Crescent Industries Toolmaker and Manufacturing Technician, is Johnny’s supervisor and said, “Johnny has a warm place in our hearts here at Crescent. He has everyone here looking out for him and waiting for him to come in.”
Michael added that Crescent has made Johnny part of their family and always recognizes his Birthday; and that Johnny proudly wears his Crescent Industries Logo polo shirt and smock.
Ever since the age of three, Johnny has had the keenest interest in dinosaurs, an interest that today is evident in his encyclopedic knowledge about them, and in his vast collection of hundreds of dinosaur figures and collectables.
“Johnny knows everything and anything about dinosaurs,” said Michael, a fact well known to Courtney and everyone at the Day Program, as well as to his colleagues at Crescent, who for his birthday the other year decorated a cookie cake with a T-Rex, his favorite dino.
His other great interest is computers, and when he’s not researching the prehistoric animals at the library, he’s online correcting facts and information specifically about them on Wikipedia pages, and looking up places to go to see them. Last October, Michael took him to Utah where they visited eight museums dedicated to the extinct reptiles, including Dinosaur National Monument Park.
When Johnny found out that the Borough of New Freedom was planning to update his local park, he prepared a PowerPoint presentation and delivered it to the borough council proposing to include a dinosaur theme to the new playground. To his delight they agreed, however, work on updating the park has yet to begin. Michael said Johnny’s work experience has really helped with his socialization.
Johnny is living a full life, working, learning, and exploring the world through his interests, people and the community, and his father couldn’t be prouder of him.
“From a parent’s standpoint, the trend towards competitive employment and the work that Penn-Mar does is great,” said Michael. “Johnny keeps himself busy and on a schedule, and he loves it. He goes to work, he goes to the Day Program, and then he’s out and about. It makes him a happier person that he’s contributing to the community in some way.”
Asked if he’s seen all the Jurassic Park movies, Johnny’s resounding answer was, “Check!”