David Bechtold, St. Anthony alumnus
David is the youngest of four children. When he was born, my husband and I made a commitment that David would be allowed to realize his full potential, and that we would assume that he would eventually lead as “typical” of a life as possible. As David grew he emulated his brothers and sister as much as he could and when needed, adjustments were made. When David entered the high school years, it was apparent that he needed something more than the public school was prepared to offer and fortunately, the St. Anthony Program was establishing a new site at North Catholic. One meeting was all that we needed to realize that we were going to be able to help David realize a dream of an independent life full of options.
David started at North Catholic in the fall of 2001 and he has never looked back. His teacher, Mr. Osiecki (Mr. “O”); Job Coach, Carol Juba and of course Vocational Director, Gary Eiseman allowed David to see the possibilities that would exist for him as a young man. With Gary’s patience David mastered the murky and unpredictable waters of public transportation. Mr. Osiecki helped David to realize a sense of personal responsibility and accountability. Carol Juba was a friend and mentor who watched David become an individual who in 2004, at the age of 17, became competitively employed.
The St. Anthony School Programs post-secondary program helped David to finetune his money skills, and has encouraged David to reach higher than we could have dreamed. He has maintained his job and has been given increased responsibility. He navigates the Downtown and Oakland areas like a pro. His cell phone and self-help skills are amazing, and he deals with the unexpected better than we could have imagined.
In David’s own words: In May, 2008, I graduated from the St. Anthony School Programs Post-secondary program. In my last year of school, I started to think that I should have a place of my own. With the encouragement of the St. Anthony staff, I talked to my parents about living in my own apartment. I recently moved into that apartment and love it. I do my own grocery shopping and cleaning and best of all I can listen to my music and watch what I want on television. I was able to ask for a transfer to a Giant Eagle closer to my apartment. Now I am able to get back and forth to work without any assistance from my parents or the use of a bus. I can take the bus to Oakland or Downtown if I want to shop. It is nice to be able to have friends come over and we can go to the movies, go bowling or just hang out and play the Wii.
None of this would have been possible without the dedication and love of the amazing staff at the St. Anthony School Programs. These individuals continue to give all that they have in the interest of providing opportunities for the disabled and for helping them to find a place in their community.