For the last few days of NDEAM/National Disability Employment Awareness Month, meet Jason Thurston, a quadriplegic and outreach coordinator for John Dillon Park in New York, a free and fully-accessible campground that opened in 2006.
In the comments below, please share if you are ❤ working post spinal cord injury, 💚 when you started, and 💙 what you love most about your job 👍
Where Do You Live?
Bloomingdale, New York
How and When Were You Injured?
“Diving Accident in 2004. I am a C-6 incomplete quadriplegic.”
Were You Employed Your Injury?
“I was in the Restaurant business for 17 years. From Dishwasher to Head Chef.”
What is Your Current Job and What Do You Do?
“I’m currently the outreach coordinator for John Dillon Park, an accessible campground in Long Lake, New York. I started in 2019.” “I reach out to various organizations that service people with disabilities and advertise from within. I also reserving time and space for people who are regulars and come every year in addition to reaching out to groups of people for overnight and day-use activities.”
How Did You Find Your Job?
“I had been visiting the campground for several years and asked to get involved. I was invited to a board meeting and realized that I could contribute. My personal, professional, and education have prepared me to help. I returned the following spring and gave a presentation outlining how I could do these things, and expressing my passion for the park in general.”
How Long Did You Search for Your Current Job?
“I searched for years for ANY job, but the best jobs that I’ve had I didn’t have to look for. They found me.”
Please Name Any Programs That Supported You Finding or Maintaining Your Current Job:
“I did work with the local vocational rehab and was referred to an employment agency. I never found a job this way.”
What Kind of Disability Accommodations, If Any, Have You Requested and Received from Your Employer?
“My employers have provided transportation.”
Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks to Share on Finding a Job?
“I got lucky. It was something I was already passionate about. Keep your eyes open and look for your passion.”
Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks to Share on Maintaining Employment for the Long Term?
“Do your best to stay healthy, and always have honest communication with your employer.”
If You Could Go Back in Time, What Advice Would You Give Yourself Before Pursuing Your Job or Career Path?
“I would tell myself to be open to finding my passion.”
Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Add About Your Job Search or Employment Experience?
“Stay positive and never sell yourself short. A lot of times if you don’t get a certain job, it probably wasn’t meant to be. We have unique perspective and I think that is what we can offer the world.”
— Follow Jason on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.thurston.7796