Editor's Note: For several charitable organizations, the holiday season — like the rest of the year — is a time to help those dealing with some of life's toughest problems and providing solutions to those problems. In the week leading up to Christmas, the News Tribune is using its "A Christmas Wish" series to showcase individuals whose lives were impacted by United Way of Central Missouri partner agencies and donors.
Tylar Patridge is like most 23-year-old men. He loves watching sports, especially Kansas City Chiefs football and NASCAR racing.
Tylar, who is hearing impaired, graduated from the Missouri School of the Deaf in Fulton where he played sports. He played football and basketball, and they won their conference championship in both sports.
"The kids really look up to those kids," Tylar's dad, Jeff, said. "They had posters up throughout the school of the players in the elementary school, and the kids there called the sports guys their heroes. So it was a big deal to play sports."
Tylar graduated from MSD in May 2014, and for two years, he and his family spent time trying to find a job to best fit his skills. The family ran into many problems when job searching. Some business officials said Tylar's use of sign language could be a hindrance to interacting with his coworkers, Jeff said. Also, Tylar couldn't find a job where he was comfortable with the work that was to be performed.
Jeff eventually decided to go to Capitol Projects and scheduled a time for he and Tylar to look over the facility.
It's been 50 years since Capitol Projects opened its doors. The sheltered workshop, located on East McCarty Street, employs intellectually disabled residents from Jefferson City and surrounding communities. The workshop has subcontracts with businesses to do a variety of jobs such as small parts assembly and mailroom tasks.
In March 2016, Tylar was hired at Capitol Projects and currently works at picking books on the shrinkwrap line where book sets are assembled for Scholastic.
"All our employees get a sense of independence by working here, and they feel they are doing something to contribute to the betterment of the community," Capitol Projects Executive Director Tami Bock said. "They know these businesses are counting on them to get their jobs done. It's not about a paycheck for them. They feel they are making a difference."
Document: Capitol Projects 2016 Form 990View
As Jeff puts it, from day one, the staff and employees at Capitol Projects accepted his son.
"On the first day, we even found out that a few of the employees knew sign language, and this helped to assimilate Tylar," Jeff said. "Every morning now, Tylar gets up with a smile on his face and bounds out the door ready to go to work. At night, he comes home smiling and tells us about his day."
Communicating through his mom, Marcia, Tylar said he enjoys the time he spends working and interacting with his friends and the Capitol Projects staff.
"It makes his Mom and Dad very proud that he likes what he does," Marcia said as she fought back tears. "He's somewhere that they accept him. When you have challenges to deal with in the real world, it makes it hard on the families, and Capitol Projects gave us a lot of comfort."
"For Tylar, it's more than just a job and a paycheck, it's about being in a place where he fits in and where he's happy," Jeff said.
In this series:
Capitol Projects 'more than just a job'