John Griffin of MAB’s Adult Disability Services Awarded Emello Family/Boston University Staff Development Scholarship
John Griffin is passionate about helping others through his work at MAB Community Services, ensuring that individuals with disabilities get to live a full life and have their voice heard. The first recipient of the Emello Family/Boston University Staff Development Scholarship – a part of MAB’s larger Recruitment and Retention Initiative – Griffin will now be able to further advance his career in human services.
What motivates him to help in this way? Simple: he knows what it’s like.
Around middle school and into high school, Griffin experienced crippling anxiety and depression, hindering his academic performance and resulting in him being placed in alternative schools.
“I felt completely isolated from all my friends and felt intellectually inferior,” Griffin says. “It was around this time I had my heart set on finding a career in which I am helping people, and I vowed to always listen to what they were saying, as I too often felt ignored.”
Determined to have a fresh start, Griffin got his G.E.D. and began taking classes at Greenfield Community College, where he found himself beginning to succeed academically for the first time in years. His confidence restored, he transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he obtained his B.A. in Psychology.
During his studies at UMass, Griffin briefly worked as a 1-to-1 personal care assistant for a man who suffered a stroke.
“He was an absolute delight to work with,” says Griffin. “And I learned a lot about myself working with him.”
Unfortunately, the man’s condition worsened and he was taken back to hospice care. The experience, however, gave Griffin a glimpse into what he wanted to pursue as a career.
“Seeing the challenges he faced helped strengthened my aspirations of helping others,” he says. “And also helped me identify a population I would possibly want to work with after graduation.”
Shortly after graduating from UMass Amherst in 2015, Griffin landed a job at MAB Community Services doing exactly that. Currently he works as a Career Development Coach, but in his time at MAB he has also gained experience as a one-to-one staff, a program specialist, and even a van driver – doing whatever he can to help.
“I’ve loved working at MAB since day one,” he says. “I’ve met so many amazing people.”
As a Career Development Coach, Griffin helps individuals in MAB’s Adult Disability Services program reach their vocational goals. This includes helping them prepare resumes, fill out applications, or assisting in the interview process. For those already employed he also provides ongoing job coaching.
Griffin gets the most satisfaction out of helping individuals integrate with the outside community – something he knows the importance of firsthand based on his own experience.
“Just the other day,” he explains, “I was working with one of our clients at his job, watching him make his coworkers laugh, seeing how well they all got along. For someone who can relate to being kept on the sidelines, it was a beautiful visual.”
Knowing what it is like to feel excluded, Griffin loves that MAB’s Adult Disability Services uses a Person-Centered Planning model that creates individualized programming for individual based on their particular needs and desires, allowing them to have a voice in forming their own unique plan.
Now, thanks to the Emello Family/Boston University Staff Development Scholarship, John Griffin can further grow and advance his career at MAB, as he pursues a Master’s in Social Work with a clinical focus at Boston University and an anticipated graduation date of May 2020.
A resident of Allston, Griffin is just a 10-minute walk from the MABWorks office of MAB’s Adult Disability Services, and each day he walks to work knowing that he makes a difference in the lives of those he serves. Due to the generosity of the Emello family and Boston University, he can continue to develop his skills to have an even greater impact.
When asked what he would like to say to the donors who made this scholarship a reality, Griffin is full of gratitude for the opportunity:
“I would give them the biggest thanks I possibly could,” he says. “With all the hardships I faced earlier in my life, the fact that I am attending a school as prestigious as BU astounds me. I also promise to give them nothing but my very best, both at work and at school. My attendance would not have been possible without their help, and I will be forever grateful.”