Orquideo DePina used to fill boxes at a sheltered job site, mind-numbing work that gave him little in the way of satisfaction or skills.
He recalls one of his employers at Training Through Placement Inc., in North Providence, RI, telling him, “You’re never going to get a job out there.” “The old bosses used to put me down,” said DePina.
Now, DePina goes to work each day at Progress Automotive, an auto repair shop in North Kingstown, RI, where he does a bit of everything, from changing oil to rotating tires. Although he takes two buses from Providence, RI, he is usually the first person to arrive at the auto repair shop.
DePina’s boss, Greg Murphy, made a few simple changes to help DePina become familiar with his new work site. He created a labeling system for various tools. The system became so popular that Murphy has expanded it to include all of the work stations.
After seeing DePina’s willingness to learn, Murphy said, there is “no question that Q should be working in the community” rather than a sheltered workshop. “He is a great employee and has continued to grow every single day,” he said.
DePina said his new employer sets high expectations for what he can accomplish.
DePina said he will never forget how Murphy taught him how to drive—which was not part of his job description. “I was really nervous,” DePina said. “Now I move cars all around the lot.”