January 3, 2024

Andrew Brooks – A Long Road with a Positive Outcome!

Andrew Brooks – A Long Road with a Positive Outcome!

In 2017, Andrew Brooks was an intern in OPWDD’s Employment Training Program with Westchester Road Runner, a specialty running and walking store in the city of White Plains. Andrew was tasked with matching the style number on shoe boxes with those already in the store’s inventory, keeping each style together, by vendor, and then putting them in order by shoe size and into inventory. At first, Andrew struggled with this work. Learning to stock sneakers by their style number on shoe box labels was a challenge. But, by using pictures of the sneaker box labels taken by his coworkers, Andrew learned to recognize and match the numbers and labels on the sneaker boxes and add them to the store shelves where they belonged.

Andrew at Westchester Road Runner
Andrew and store owner, Andy Kimerling.

When COVID-19 took the world by surprise in 2020, his internship was suspended, and Andrew wondered if he would ever return to it. However, through the pandemic, Westchester Road Runner staff made a point to Face-Time with Andrew once a week to keep his skills fresh and make sure they stayed connected. The virtual connection helped Andrew review his work routine and maintain his work skills. Andrew was able to return to his internship in August 2021, and two years later, in April 2023, Westchester Road Runner offered Andrew a position on their staff.

Today, Andrew is excited to be an employee, as he continues to hone his skills and abilities and grow more independent and more comfortable interacting with his co-workers. He now uses para transit buses to get to and from work and his cell phone to contact his supervisor if he needs to, something he would’ve been reluctant to do at the start of his job. He has also expanded the length of his workday.

Andrew says his favorite part of his job is helping people get the sneakers they need. He also enjoys the relationships he has developed with his co-workers and the company owner, Andy Kimerling. According to Kimerling, Andrew’s growth shows in his demeanor. Andrew comes into the store happy, eager to get to work, and greets his fellow employees with a smile. His early reticence to interact has disappeared. He is always looking for ways to help the staff and learn new skills. Says Kimerling, the staff enjoy joking with Andrew, and he loves the interaction. With this support and camaraderie, Andrew is making a positive difference for his co-workers and for Westchester Road Runner.