Kwynn Voss transitioned directly from school into his dream job at Crook County Parks and Recreation.
Kwynn, 21, is starting to find his voice as his confidence grows. On a sunny day in Prineville, he dashes to grab garbage cans at local parks and haul them back to the truck. As he pulls the level that compacts the trash, he spins in a circle and says, “Squish!”
Kwynn finished the Youth Transition Program at Crook County High School in 2018. He had some work experience – including working at a warehouse and also as a custodian for the school district – but then Karianne Clark was brought in by Vocational Rehabilitation to support Kwynn during the job development process.
“I started to get to know Kwynn really well, and he was using an iPad regularly at school,” Karianne said. “I noticed he was on a Youtube page watching videos of big trucks dumping things over and over again.”
A conversation with Kwynn’s grandparents yielded more information. Kwynn, who has autism, lives with grandparents Cliff and Wendy Kiser in Prineville.
“To him, dump trucks are like Neil Armstrong going to the moon,” Wendy Kiser said. “He has a whole collection of toy trucks, especially garbage trucks, under his bed.”
Karianne called Duane Darner, executive director at Crook County Parks and Recreation. It turned out there was an opportunity for someone to assist the parks driver.
“It streamlines the job so Kwynn runs quickly to grab the cans for the driver,” Karianne said.
Kwynn was hired in April 2018 for three days per week. His grandmother said his nickname at home is “Tigger” because of Kwynn’s speed.
“He loves going out, just pretty much being outside anywhere,” Wendy said. “He cannot wait to get up in the morning on the days he works.”
His coworker, Grant Crow, drives the truck. He said Kwynn’s enthusiasm for the work has rubbed off on him.
“He is so excited when we pull up to a park, he practically leaps out of the truck,” Grant said. “It makes a job that is not so glamourous a lot more fun.”
His grandmother said she once thought Kwynn would not be able to work, but now she sees that Kwynn is capable of much more.
“I didn’t think he could learn as much as he has,” she said. “He was so much in his shell before. Now he gets his work shirt and his backpack ready the night before he works.
Wendy continued, “I think it’s because he is trusted to do something that he loves to do anyway. Knowing he is helping somehow is what matters to him.”
Kwynn’s employment team includes: Services Coordinator Dianna Ellis, Job Developer and Job Coach Kari Clark, Job Coach Keeley Sayers, and VR Counselor Cortney Gibson.
View a video of Kwynn at work.