That First Call for Help

By Rafael Dones

For Shaquille Walker, having a multi-disciplinary team behind him represents opportunity and success. It took a call to shift his life from a collision course and get him back on track. His former teacher Danielle, in collaboration with his job coach Robert and current HR Manager Aida, “networked” the situation after they saw him experience an eviction and decrease in work motivation, and found an ally in APD.

“I could lose him, and so far, he has been a great employee, always on time, able to follow commands, and with a great work ethic . . . something needs to be done,” said Aida, HR Manager from Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs.

After acquiring his full-time job with Hilton Hotels through his school transition program, Shaquille started to struggle and needed directions. Shaquille lacked efficient money management and budgeting skills, and although he was living with his mother, they ended up in an eviction and had to stay in a crowded family member’s home.

Shaquille had to sleep on the living room floor, coming to work restless, not properly dressed and demotivated. His coworkers immediately noticed the sudden change. His managers took initiative, allowing him to use the property address and called his former teacher and job coach for help. Together they helped Shaquille to apply with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Immediately after approval, the agency contacted Leslie Levy from Helpers in Heels LLC, his current Supported Living coach, to help him recover his independence and prevent a major crisis. Through the Individual and Family Services, Leslie was able to help budget his finances appropriately and discuss independence and the development of life skills. In a matter of 40 days, Shaquille, with the help of his support team, was able to save $574 for a down payment on his apartment, send letters, resolve past debts, and create a meal account with the Hilton Hotel so he can have a decent lunch every day at work.

“I wanted to meet the people behind all of this; I want to see my support coordinator one day,” Shaquille said after completing his Support Plan. Recently, Shaquille moved to a HUD apartment administered by Quest, Inc., a local nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities. The Hilton donated a bed and other household items, and Shaquille opened a bus pass account to go to and from work and is currently working to reinstate his government benefits.

For Shaquille Walker (third from left), having a multi-disciplinary team behind him represents opportunity and success