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In 2017, Ryan was working the overnight shift as a stock clerk when, on his drive home, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his vehicle. He sustained severe injuries, including multiple fractures and a head injury.

After several months in a medically induced coma, followed by years of inpatient and outpatient rehab, Ryan reached out to the Oregon Department of Human Services Vocational Rehabilitation team to help him regain his independence. He wanted to work again stocking shelves but was having difficulty maintaining the speed and accuracy necessary to accomplish the job.

Feeling hopeless that he would never relearn the skills he needed for his desired job, Ryan was referred to Albertina Kerr for job development. “When I met Ryan, I thought he’d be a perfect match for Advanced Auto Parts,” says Melissa Depa, a Kerr Employment Services program manager. “They had recently reached out to us to spread the word they were hiring, and they also wanted to provide supported employment.”

Melissa helped Ryan with his application to be a stock clerk and went with him to the in-person job interview. When Advanced Auto Parts hired him, they offered reassurance that their focus was on accuracy and reliability, not speed.

Since starting his job in August 2021, Ryan continues to receive support from Kerr. “Coaches help him remember the sequence of his tasks, stay in his routine, and ease his anxiety as worries arise,” Melissa explains. “Ryan is a positive force of energy—he’s slowly gaining speed and confidence and hopes to someday be able to work
full time.”