CLEARWATER, Fla. - A retired aerospace employee is making a significant impact in the lives of young adults with disabilities.
Phillip Martin thoroughly enjoys being a job coach and teaching students at LiFT University.
"It's very fulfilling for me," said Martin. "So I look forward to coming to work, and, and helping new students."
LiFT University teaches young adults with learning disabilities life skills so that they can become independent. Martin, gives the students a hand up, by teaching them job skills.
"Many of our students, have never had a job before. They're not used to working, you know, more than five or 10 minutes at a time. So we build up that stamina so that they will be able to hold a job and then have the social skills that they'll be able to keep the job," he said.
He was recently honored by the Tampa Bay Lightning as a community hero and received a $50,000 check on behalf of LiFT.
"I was able to have my family there. My coworkers, you know, some LiFT leadership. So it was, it was exciting. The game was really good," Martin stated.
Pictured: Phillip Martin
Local businesses provide students with job experiences.
"We provide internships so that they can get the training that they need to go out and to, get a job, become more independent. So our main goal is to help our students, be the best that they can be," Martin added.
The hands-on approach at LiFT University is proving effective and instilling confidence in the students. Student Ryan Zeep said it was challenging in the beginning but he's growing from the experience.
"It was hard for the first few days, but it's actually been going pretty good, like day after day," shared Zeep . "I gotten more used to it."
This grassroots effort, initiated 11 years ago, has become a notable success. Martin shared a heartwarming story of a student who, after receiving his first paycheck, treated his parents to dinner.
"He took his parents out to dinner, you know, and he's like, I'm buying you dinner instead of you buying," Martin said.
Creating a nurturing environment to turn students with disabilities into productive citizens is the goal of the program.
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