From Dream to Reality: Denise and The Autism Project

By Sara Porcaro | April 16, 2019

In Johnston, Atwood Avenue is a blur. A steady river of cars flows across the intersections as people go about their errands, stopping at Dunkin' for a coffee or at Subway's for a bite in between. One place on the busy street, tucked between TD Bank and other local shops, is The Autism Project (TAP)--and there at the front desk, with a sunny smile for all visitors on this Thursday afternoon, is Denise!

At the end of 2017, Denise started as a volunteer with TAP. She found the position when TAP Executive Director Joanne Quinn reached out to Perspectives in search of new talent for the office position. After a year, Denise's skills and hard work were rewarded; as of this January, Denise has been working as a paid office assistant, where she manages an impressive list of duties. From answering the phones and greeting patrons, sorting through mail, and processing paperwork, to creating learning materials for TAP programs, and helping prepare for upcoming events, Denise is always hard at work for her four weekly shifts--and always ready to help with any projects her coworkers need.

"Everyday is a different thing, and I like that," Denise says. "I love my coworkers, too; they're all so nice, and they make working here even better!"

Working alongside Denise is Perspectives Direct Support Professional Shannon Mulcahy, who comes and supports Denise on the job and throughout the rest of her day. They work side-by-side, both integral parts of the TAP team--and the comradery in the office is truly stellar. As Denise works, her coworkers are happy to stop and chat with the dedicated assistant when they have a spare moment. And with Denise's birthday that week, the team also came together for a small office birthday party full of cake, party decorations, and cheer. Denise has also been invited to some coworkers' weddings and baby showers, which she happily attended.

Joanne asserts with pride, "Denise does fantastic work. She's a bright spot in everyone's day, and we depend on her. And Shannon is the best job coach we've ever encountered! They really make a great team."

Shannon also supported Denise through her online job training, helping this motivated employee do her best and learn all the skills necessary to thrive in her workplace. Outside the workplace, Denise is just as active! She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as going to the movies, going shopping, and finding new restaurants to try out with her friends. But when Denise is at work, she's happy--and she looks forward to every shift doing the work she loves, with great people to support her!

Denise smiles as she works on children's learning materials. "When I started here, I put my mind to it and decided, 'this is it--this is the job for me.' Since then, I've loved every minute I spend here."

April is Autism Awareness Month, and TAP is busier than ever, preparing for their 17th annual Imagine Walk fundraiser event--one that promises an array of activities for both the fundraiser walk itself and the Family Fun Day right after. With face painting, bouncy castles, informational booths, and more, Denise and Shannon are excited to be helping out and participating in the event for the first time! And every day, Denise is proud to work for TAP--proud, and absolutely excelling at her duties in the office. Amazing work, Denise!