Ask Andrew Withrow what he likes best about his job at Bigfoot Beverages, and he’ll tell you that there are a lot of things he likes. But most of all, he’ll answer that “Work makes me happy.”
Withrow, age 19, is a student at the Transition Co-op in Bend. He works part-time in the warehouse, where he unloads and opens freight boxes. He stocks the shelves, and sweeps the floors, too. Withrow’s dad also works at Bigfoot Beverages. When he learned that this position was available, they turned to Vocational Rehab for services that would help Withrow succeed.
Finding success with help from people and from technology
To learn his work routine successfully, Withrow found help through a job coach and through the use of technology. An app on his phone called Choiceworks lists each task he needs to complete, including clocking in and out. As he completes each item, Withrow slides it from the “to-do” column to the “all done” column. This keeps him working independently through each shift.
Another phone app, called Transit, helps him use public transportation. Withrow has learned to ride the Cascades East Transit buses to get to work. With Transit, he can find the right bus numbers and times, and the app helped him learn his route within a few weeks. Transit can be used in many different cities for buses, trains, subways, and even scooter and bike rentals.
There have been challenges along the way, too. Recently, Withrow realized he’d hopped on the wrong bus, and had to do some problem solving. He was able to call his job coach and explain the situation, and then was able to find his way onto the correct bus.
Another challenge was getting used to the work itself. His job is physical, and requires strong, tough hands. He had to keep at it, even though his hands were uncomfortable, until his skin toughened up and he became used to the work.
Adding some fun to the warehouse team
Withrow has found a way to connect with the rest of the warehouse staff at Bigfoot Beverages and add his own sense of fun to the workday. He is a big fan of the BeeGees—especially their songs on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. At the end of the workday, or if the work is a little slow, Withrow plays one of his favorites and gets the warehouse team going with a little dance party, just for fun.
Most of all, he enjoys being near his dad. Working together is something Withrow has always wanted. “It’s my dream come true,” he said.