APRIL 2016 - Toya Brown likes to keep things neat, so working on the sales floor at the Sears
store in Waldorf, Maryland is a good fit. “Whenever I see a mess, I go and fix it.”
Toya has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and it affects her ability to communicate. This made job placement challenging, says Suzie Miller, DORS Waldorf supervisor. “[We] worked with New Horizons
for job development services. There were many meetings to brainstorm about possible employment for Toya.”
Toya did an Americans with Disabilities internship at the gift shop in the Kennedy Center
in Washington, DC, and that experience helped her get a job at a Forever 21 store. She worked there from 2011 through 2013. Unfortunately, that store closed, so Toya came back to DORS for assistance in finding another position.
DORS paid for the services at New Horizons, which included having Toya work with a job developer. Toya says her job developer (Jasmine) taught her a lot. “She helped me look for a job and she helped me with clothes and accessories [for work].”
All the efforts paid off because Toya was hired at Sears in August 2015 and she is enjoying the work. “Every morning I do the clearance. I also get the racks from the fitting rooms if they are too full.” When asked if the store gets busy and messy sometimes, Toya nods, but says she does not mind. “I never complain about trying to get done on time [9:30 PM]. And, I’ve worked holidays when it was very busy. On Thanksgiving I worked until midnight.”
Following Toya around the store it is easy to see why she is successful at her job. She uses an iPad app to scan items of clothing to determine markdowns, she uses a table with folding sides to re-fold shirts and sweaters, and she moves quickly and efficiently throughout several clothing departments. “If someone else is doing Men’s, I go to Children’s.”
Toya gets praise and support from her co-workers. She says everyone helps her. “They are very nice, they always help me… It’s like teamwork.” And Sears store manager Dave Weavill tells DORS that Toya is an asset to the store.
Things are going so well that Toya would like to find another part time retail job. She currently works at Sears 24 hours per week, usually in eight hour shifts, but she likes to stay busy so she also volunteers at East Waldorf Jazzercise where she organizes the class schedule.
It is this willingness to tackle her tasks that has helped Toya to be successful. When asked what she would tell others who have ASD and want to work, she says “I would tell them to call DORS.” Suzie Miller agrees that the DORS-New Horizons partnership was valuable, but ultimately it came down to Toya. “She was super organized and a true pleasure to work with!”