Finding Myself Again: Paul Crockrom Rediscovers Work with Purpose through the AbilityOne Program
Paul is a retired veteran from the US Army. He was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, where he received various commendations and service medals as an infantryman. After his time in the military, Paul had a variety of jobs but ultimately began to struggle with a disability. In 2010, he moved to the Inland Northwest and took on various temp jobs. However, the jobs were not consistent, and he wanted more structure in his life. Then Paul found an opportunity with Skils’kin working at the federal courthouse in Spokane as a maintenance worker. This work opportunity, made possible through SourceAmerica and the AbilityOne program, gave Paul the supports he needed to get his life back together.
“My disability got to a point where I couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t work,” Paul explained. “It’s an illness that can really set you apart from who you are. It takes you from being someone to being someone at the bottom. But I finally got with Skils’kin and learned how to develop and work with people again. I was able to focus and get my life together. Being with Skils’kin helped me become the person that I really was.”
The person Paul really is, as his work indicates, is someone who takes a lot of pride in his work and his team. Someone who motivates his coworkers and gets everyone to collaborate and engage. Paul recognizes that many individuals with disabilities live isolated lives, so he did everything in his power to connect with and lift up his teammates, creating a warm, welcoming environment by livening the breakroom walls with posters and by encouraging coworkers to socialize with each other.
“When I first got here, nobody talked to me because everyone was introverted. They just came here, and all they could see were these blank walls. I understood that they needed more in their life. They needed entertainment. They needed someone to talk to. And they needed to know that there’s a lot more to life than just coming in to work everyday not socializing. I wanted to open them up to life. I wanted to bring more life into the working environment.”
When you walk through the federal courthouse and see the Skils’kin team, you can sense the camaraderie. You can sense the pride and purpose in their work. Much of that success is a result of Paul’s capacity to promote meaningful change and constantly look upwards. Even Joseph Harrington, a United States Attorney, took notice of Paul’s work ethic:
“[Paul] is always quick to respond and assist if we have a simple request and is always friendly, approachable, and professional,” the US attorney explained. “He is a hard worker who takes pride in his work and we feel very fortunate in this office to have the privilege to work with him on a daily basis.”
Undoubtedly, the AbilityOne program created an integrated space that has enabled Paul to rediscover his drive and passion – and this success has Paul looking upward toward greater success:
“I had a past where I used to be very driven,” Paul explained. “I always wanted to be at the top of my game. I had been held back for so long by my illness, that after about 14 years of dealing with this illness, it came to a head that ‘you gotta kick it.’ You gotta fight harder and become that person that you used to be. That driven person that wanted more out of life. That person that was goal oriented and was always striving to be a better person. I want to be a good man. I want to be a good provider. I want to be a leader. I want to be somebody that is recognized within the community as somebody who did something and meant something to people, who helped people and made the work environment a better place. I want to put my own stamp on the world.”
Having discovered strength and success in the workplace through the AbilityOne program, Paul now seeks to venture out into the business community. He has asked for assistance with his résumé, and Skils’kin’s Employment Services department is going to market Paul to opportunities we have with businesses and organizations within the community, so he can continue to make meaningful impacts in the workforce.