For the past year, Kyle has been a member of the STEP Up (Supported Training & Employment) Program at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus; a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. However, he’s been a part of The Arc of Loudoun community since 2010, when his mom, Christine, started working at the Open Door Learning Center preschool on campus. Since then, Kyle, now 21, has volunteered as an assistant teacher at ODLC and has had other miscellaneous tasks, such as data entry, for the various programs at Paxton.
Volunteering and working at The Arc of Loudoun has allowed Kyle to learn many different skills. “It’s [The Arc] helped me learn how to be responsible and I’ve gained more experience with social interaction,” he said. By gaining these skills, Kyle was able to secure a job at Noodles & Company in Leesburg, where he takes orders as a cashier, prepares the meals, and helps the customers. One of Kyle’s passions is cooking, and he teaches his fellow STEP Up colleagues how to cook different meals three times a month. Once a month Kyle also prepares for all his meals– where makes a list of all the ingredients and materials for his dish. Kyle makes a variety of dishes, but he loves cooking Italian food which is why he’s grateful that Paxton provided him the opportunity to gain work experience in order to become an employee at Noodles & Company.
Kyle aspires to become a professional chef, and he is now able to add both his experience from conducting cooking classes through STEP UP and his job at Noodles & Company to his resume when he applies to culinary school. Kyle believes he wouldn’t be where he is now without The Arc of Loudoun stating,
“This place is really special to me. It’s helped me grow, develop, and unlock my hidden potential. No one would have an excuse to feel angry here at a place like this.”