From a Game of Basketball to a Job: The Salvation Army Creates Opportunities for Individuals with Special Needs 16/12/2011
When Dan was 13, a friend invited him to play basketball in his neighborhood on a Tuesday night. Little did he know that this first encounter with The Salvation Army Corps Community Center would change his life.
Thanks to this friend, the shy and reticent Dan, who has an intellectual disability, found a caring group of friends and adult mentors who took him under their wing.
Throughout his public high school experience in special education classes, Dan continued to attend The Salvation Army Boys Club, where middle school students gather to play basketball, enjoy a meal, and participate in church and bible classes. When Dan turned 16, Major Andrew Murray, commanding officer at The Salvation Army, arranged for him to work as a stock boy for the summer at The Salvation Army Camp Ladore in the Pocono mountains.
“His parents were shocked when we were willing to hire him,” Murray said, “but we saw the opportunity to get him on track to a productive life.”
After a successful summer, Murray offered Dan eight weeks of work staffing The Salvation Army red kettles during the Christmas season, further establishing his employment credentials.
Today, Dan is 21 and has been employed for two years as a stock boy at Best Buy.
“He found a place where he was cared for and that built his confidence that he could work outside the Army and maintain a job,” Murray said. “And it all started because he walked through the door for Boy’s Club.”