Posted on July 14, 2023
After a hard day’s work, Coty Daugherty likes to come home, kick off his boots and relax. His job at Greif York is physically demanding, but he loves it. It’s the first real job he’s had that’s given him a great sense of purpose, ownership, independence, and a lot of pride.
Greif York manufactures tubes and cores, and Coty’s job is in the facility’s recycling center, where he helps run the commercial bailer, a large machine with a conveyor that breaks down and compresses materials for recycling.
Coty got his job at Greif seven months ago through Penn-Mar’s Customized Employment (CE) Program, which has helped hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland connect with employers and meaningful jobs in their communities. Coty entered the program several years ago through the encouragement of Tricia Zeltwanger, a Penn-Mar Career Counselor, Job Developer, and Job Coach.
“I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of knowing Coty forever,” said Tricia. “His mom Lynne is one of my best friends. We grew up next door to each other and went to school together.”
When Coty was born, he was nine weeks premature and weighed only one pound. Despite the odds of survival and an intellectual disability that was as a result of his early birth, today Coty is a strapping 31-year-old, who is relishing the opportunity to work and earn a paycheck.
Once Coty graduated from Dallastown High School in 2013, Tricia encouraged Lynne to look into employment for him. Out of deference for their friendship, she said she didn’t push. Lynne, for her part, said she was reluctant to have Tricia directly involved, knowing of course her work with Penn-Mar, because she didn’t want to put any stress on their relationship.
“I didn’t know what to expect in the beginning,” said Lynne. “But Tricia’s championed for Coty, from the beginning, and I always appreciated her support and feedback. She always knew what would be best for Coty.”
Lynne first went through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in York County for employment services, but nothing panned out, so she turned to Penn-Mar and Tricia. At the time, Penn-Mar had a paid work contract with Cintas, the business services company, and in order to meet the company’s employment needs, Tricia created an enclave of individuals, including Coty, whose jobs were to reframe wire hangers. It was his first employment experience and as Lynne said he really enjoyed it, so much so that she was concerned he might not adjust to the new job at Greif as well.
“Coty is so used to repetition and talked about how much he liked his job at Cintas,” said Lynne. “I was worried about him finding a new job. The same things moms worry about – is he going to like it? Are they going to treat him right? Are the employers going to understand his disability?”
Echoing Lynne, Tricia said that repetition is key to Coty’s employment success, something she learned about him early on through Penn-Mar’s CE Program’s Exploration and Discovery, a process that uncovers an individual’s skills, talents, and career interests.
“Even though I knew Coty, I still wanted him to go through E&D,” said Tricia. “I knew there was more to him than just cleaning, one of his expressed interests. He’s a strong man, his endurance level is very high.”
As a Job Developer, Tricia establishes and maintains relationships with businesses and employers and connects them with a Penn-Mar job seeker who fills a customized role within the company.
One of the first questions Tricia asks a prospective employer is where they need job support within the company. Explaining his need for repetition, Coty was recommended for a position in Greif’s recycling center, where they needed somebody a few days a week.
“They laid the red carpet out for him,” said Tricia. “They took to him and he to them right away.”
Lynne can’t be happier for her son: “Coty feels good about his boss and the people he works with. He said he feels proud that he is able to work by himself and doesn’t need the job coaches anymore. He only ever has positive things to say, and it makes me smile from ear to ear.”
“I’m actually doing a good job there,” said Coty. “I like the people. I like my hours, and I always clock in on time. I also like earning a paycheck. Now I can treat my mom to dinner.”