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Working and thriving: Devereux Pennsylvania’s CAAPP program helps Lauren Penrod achieve success

 

Lauren Penrod, who works at T.J. Maxx department store and Giant supermarket, says Devereux Pennsylvania’s CAAPP program has helped her improve her social skills and leadership qualities, and thrive in the community.

Working two jobs, Lauren Penrod, who receives services through Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania, has one goal: to continue to learn as many new skills as possible.

Lauren has been employed at T.J. Maxx department store in Abington, Pa., since 2015, and in 2021, she took on a second job at Giant supermarket in Doylestown, Pa.

Lauren says Devereux Pennsylvania’s Community Adult Autism Partnership Program (CAAPP), which provides individualized and innovative community-based support services for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other disabilities, has helped her improve her social skills and leadership qualities, and thrive in the community.

“At T.J. Maxx, I mainly work in the shoe section, putting sensors on shoes and arranging them on the shelves according to size and type,” said Lauren. “Sometimes, I work in the fitting rooms. I wipe them clean and help customers by giving them a tag that shows how many items they have when they walk into the fitting rooms, and I take the clothes they don’t want when they come out. At Giant, I shop for other people by getting orders and finding items on the store shelves. I then scan the items on a computer, put them in bags, and place the bags in storage until they are picked up.”

Devereux Pennsylvania CAAPP Program Director Amanda Duffy shared, “To say we are proud of Lauren is an understatement. She has worked extremely hard to secure and maintain not one, but two jobs – and she is flourishing. Our hope is for all of the individuals we serve to achieve greater independence and become productive, socially-connected and personally fulfilled members of their local communities.”

Developing job, social skills

Lauren works approximately 16 hours per week at T.J. Maxx and Giant, noting how much she has learned about the retail business.

“I have learned a lot of skills, such as how to put sensors on items; get rid of the paper and plastic that shoes come wrapped in; organize shelves; gather grocery items; and scan, bag and put grocery items away for storage,” Lauren explained. “In addition, I sometimes need to communicate with customers, co-workers and my supervisors, which is an important skill.”

For Lauren, each job has its perks.

“At T.J. Maxx, I like that I get to see all of the shoes and think about what I might buy for myself. I also like my co-workers. They are really nice,” Lauren shared. “What I like most about working at Giant is they trained me to be a shopper, and I find it interesting to see what people buy.”

Making contributions; setting goals

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Lauren participates in CAAPP’s advocacy group and planning committee.

“The advocacy group meets twice a month. We talk about the importance of advocating for ourselves. It’s a very cool group of people,” Lauren said. “The planning committee is responsible for party planning. I like coming up with activities, games, crafts and music playlists. I’m known as DJLP, which stands for DJ Lauren Penrod. Participating in these groups makes me feel good. I like having the opportunity to take on leadership roles, and I like that my opinion matters.”

In her free time, Lauren enjoys working on the computer, reading articles, playing video games, drawing and watching sports – especially Philadelphia sports teams. As for her goals for the future?

“I want to live in a condo where I can walk to activities, do things with friends and have a pet cat,” Lauren shared. “I also want to continue working and learning more skills.”

Learn more about Devereux Pennsylvania’s Community Adult Autism Partnership Program, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

 

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