(Dis)abilities + Work + Beaverton = No Problem! Meet Daniel Fitzgerald, Employed!

By the Dirkse Team

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Daniel Fitzgerald

Daniel Fitzgerald is a native Oregonian who loves music and singing. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of anything Disney – just ask him! Daniel has autism, a diagnosis that currently affects over 3,000,000 people in the United States. Finding a job that fits the talents and skills of those living on the autism spectrum requires a company willing to revisit their operations.

Last spring, he began his search for the perfect job with Discovery Specialist Nicole Turner-Beisel of Dirkse Counseling & Consulting, Inc. They worked together on the process of defining his skills, abilities and talents and applying them in various work environments. Then, Employment Specialist Glenn Bishop approached companies willing to “carve” his perfect job from existing positions.

Pizzicato was founded by Tracy and Marc Frankel 26 years ago. Creating mouth-watering pizzas and sandwiches throughout the Portland area, they take pride in their quality, skills and customer service. When Glenn approached manager Travis Hennon at their Sylvan location he found the company open to the possibilities of developing a supportive environment for Daniel’s first job. “I was extremely excited when Glenn from Dirkse CC approached me.  This had been done at previous stores where I worked, but I had not been presented with the opportunity since becoming a manager. I made one call to the corporate office and they were completely supportive. Pizzicato is very open to helping out and being a good community partner.”  Mr. Hennon has now been promoted to manager of Pizzacato’s PSU location.

Daniel was excited about the prospects of working for a pizza company – one of his favorite foods. He had learned to fold pizza boxes through a training program. Twice a week he folds and stocks the pizza boxes for carry-out, making sure they are well stocked for the weekend rush. His position is supported by job coaches Andrew Belcher and Robynne Peterson through Dirkse CC and Multnomah County Active/Moving DD Services. His current manager, Josh Nussbaum has continued to provide a supportive environment.

When asked about his job at Pizzicato, Daniel replies enthusiastically, “I love it, AND I love pizza!”

For more information about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, please contact Cindy Bahl, at Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc. 503-258-7715 or cindy@dirksecc.com