By Zandy Dudiak, Communications coordinator
The country was already about four months into the COVID-19 restrictions when Zachery M. decided to apply for a job at the Giant Eagle in West View.
That job, disinfecting and retrieving the shopping carts for five hours, five days a week, directly exposed him to the public and the risk of contracting the coronavirus. So did taking the bus to work. Despite the exposure, Zach says he was not afraid. He felt the mask helped keep him—and others—safe.
Zach moved to Bellwood Transitional Age Program (TAP) in June 2020, at a time when cases of COVID-19 were climbing in Allegheny County. Then, on his own just weeks later, he found the job at Giant Eagle, notes Nicole Graff, Bellwood TAP site supervisor.
“He is very self-sufficient,” Nicole says, noting that Zach gets to all his appointments on time. “He’s come a long way.”
Zach is actively working on the issues that led him to Bellwood TAP. He also works with skill-building cards that provide tasks to perform for every day of the week in every room in his apartment. For instance, he has systems in place to keep things neatly in drawers and bins. “He keeps his bedroom tidy,” Nicole says.
“He is very involved in his treatment,” adds Dominique Leone, TAP residential care advisor. Dominique says the skills cards allow residents to go at their own pace while performing needed tasks like emptying trash cans and sweeping and mopping floors. And Zach has a good incentive to keep up the good work.
“I want to get my own place,” he says.
He is working on securing his learner’s permit that would allow him to drive. He’s also working with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to find out more about educational opportunities. Right now, he has an interest in a computer graphics career.
In his free time, he enjoys watching TV, especially Looney Tunes and Family Guy. He has an interest in classic cartoons. He’s also quite proud of his collection of 28 Funko figurines.
Zach M. and his Funko collection.