An uninterrupted Animal Planet movie marathon echoed through the house while golden retriever puppies raced around the garden of his uncle’s front yard. In hindsight, Brian spent many of his afternoons either flipping through dinosaur picture books or chasing after the chickens in the neighborhood. For as long as he can remember, Brian has always had a deep appreciation and fondness for animals. So, it’s no surprise that what started off as a quirky childhood interest, soon blossomed into a full-blown passion of his. And now, as a young adult eager to join the job market, Brian has set his sights on something even greater: a career in animal welfare.

To make his dreams a reality, Brian joined Lanakila Employment Services – a program designed to provide hands-on training to empower individuals with disabilities in their career journeys. As a participant, Brian is currently training at a new local adoption café, Toe Beans & Dreams. This café not only offers delicious drinks and handcrafted treats, but also doubles as an adoption center for cats and employment opportunity for young adults with disabilities. 

While petting one of the tiny kittens, Brian looks up and smiles, “I’ve learned to do a lot of things here. But my absolute favorite part is seeing the cats and taking care of them. It’s the perfect role for me!” Here at the café, Brian is learning all types of new vocational skills. When he’s not taste testing the café’s latest milkshake concoction (for quality control purposes, of course), Brian does everything from basic chores, to greeting customers at the register, to even watching after the many cats scurrying around their playpens.

As his first ever paid job opportunity, working at the café seemed to be a natural fit. But, like anything, it didn’t come without its own set of challenges. Brian, who often struggles with anxiety when he’s overstimulated, took a little bit of time to adjust to a new role that required a lot of multitasking. To overcome this challenge, Brian worked closely alongside his job coaches and mentors. He recounts, “My job coach is great. He taught me that when I’m starting to feel antsy, it’s okay to take a break. In these situations, it’s best that I try to relax, take my mind of things by focusing on what I can control, and coming back after a few minutes refreshed and ready to work!”

Beth, one of the founders of Toe Beans & Dreams, declares, “Brian is just a jack of all trades, and we’re so lucky to have him here.” While he loves working here, eventually, Brian wants to work for the new Humane Society being built in Ewa Beach. But for now, he’s enjoying the process of learning the ropes and making huge strides in the right direction.

A program of Lanakila Disability Services, Employment Services has been training and preparing individuals with disabilities for entering the workforce since 1972. With help from our supporters, hundreds have received pre-occupational coaching and found meaningful employment.

If you are interested in donating to support individuals like Brian and programs like Employment Services, click here.