On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the values and mission of Living Resources, Inc. in addition to the College Experience made the Florida news, published recently in Florida Today, a major media outlet in the area!
Jesse Saperstein, who serves as the Media and Activities Liaison within the College Experience, was asked to be the keynote speaker at the Rialto Hilton on behalf of the Brevard Achievement Center (BAC), which provides services to many individuals with special needs in region of Melbourne, FL.
The BAC was intrigued by the College Experience and they share our passion for giving individuals the tools to reach their potential with higher education. Jesse also spoke about his long struggles with Asperger’s syndrome as well as the lack of opportunities for a long time despite his most valiant efforts and improvements in behavior. Living Resources, Inc. was the first venue of employment that allowed him to have an independent life and support himself in his first apartment within the State Capitol. Here is a segment of his words to the sold-out crowd!
For a long time, making the right decisions after such non-catastrophic mistakes, dramatic improvements in behavior, compromises on top of compromises, maturity, and controlling myself was not enough to be accepted in the adult world. For those people with autism and other disabilities in much worse shape than myself….the odds are more grim as they scratch to build a life. According to an article published in 2017, there will be 500,000 adults on the autism spectrum aging into adulthood over the next 10 years. Yet a whopping 85% of college grads affected by autism are unemployed, compared to the national unemployment rate of 4.5%. Forbes Magazine reported in 2018 that only fourteen percent of adults with autism held paid jobs in their community.
I am going to give you a heavy dose of reality today for the sake of keeping things optimistic but keeping it real, too. The tenacious efforts of those in the Disability Community help their odds, but without something else they mean absolutely nothing at all. We cannot force the free will of others through determination alone. Somebody has to extend a hand who have the power to do so and give someone like me a chance. “Yes, you are hired. Welcome aboard.” This is why we are lionizing the award recipients today as heroes because you are ultimately the final piece responsible for allowing me, my peers, and others with disabilities to have a life, income, and profession allowing them to give back to society.
My purpose here is to assist with making the BAC and the businesses you are honoring the People of the Hour because this day is truly all about you. I would not be here today speaking or have known meaningful employment if it were not for you or at least the reincarnation of you who allowed a life to build a life at a glacial, but consistent pace. And neither would my peers on the autism spectrum especially those in worse shape than me or others in the Disability Community. On that note, it is a privilege to help you recognize Lotane and Associates, the South Brevard Society for Human Resource Management, and Eric Emerick. Without your compassion, my peers could not have a chance for any sort of a meaningful life.
The BAC held their annual awards ceremony honoring individuals in the area who have made a difference as far as finding job opportunities for people with disabilities. A woman with autism and visual impairment named, Kelly sang a beautiful song and Jesse spoke about how individuals with disabilities will never see the fruits of their tireless efforts unless someone in a position of power extends a hand to give them a chance.
This will hopefully not be the last time Jesse collaborates with the Brevard Achievement Center (BAC). We thank them for hosting him and for their enthusiasm about what we do within Living Resources, Inc. and the College Experience.