MILLINOCKET – A young man in Millinocket is refusing to let his disabilities hold him back. With help from a local organization, he’s landed a job and is fitting right in with his community.
Bryer McDougal is hard at work bagging cheese and cutting peppers in the kitchen at Katahdin General Store. It’s a job he loves, but the path to get there wasn’t as easy as you might think.
McDougal was born deaf and nonverbal with autism and cerebral palsy.
“I know I’m deaf,” said McDougal’s mother Jane, who translated for him. “I’m alone, but I can write to you, we can help each other that way, and he says it’s better if we can all socialize and have fun.”
Thanks to Living Innovations, McDougal’s been having a lot of fun. The organization spreads across multiple states in the northeast, each one with the mission of supporting people with disabilities.
“Our individuals are known as a person first, not a disability,” said Living Innovations Employment Specialist Laura Rollins. “So we’re trying to include them in the community, and so that’s what are biggest job is to do, that’s one of our values. We want them to be welcomed and give them the care that they need and learn independence.”
One of their services includes job coaching, which helped McDougal land his job at Katahdin General Store.
“We brought him in and it’s worked out well,” said Katahdin General Store Owner Jamie Brundrett. “He started with one shift and now he’s up to two and he’s a good fit with the rest of the team.”
McDougal says he also wants to pursue a career in art. For now, he’s completely happy with his job in the kitchen.