Grateful for Motivation Through Employment

Benjamin Marks believes the best part about his job is starting each day with the realization he is employed. Having a job as a driver means more than merely showing up for work and getting paid. He is proud of his role and knows that others depend on him.

Marks has been employed for the past six months at the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolinas located in Raleigh. His job involves driving an agency truck to area locations, collecting donations and bringing the items back to the Alliance. The agency supports individuals in the community who need assistance with groceries. On the days he doesn’t drive, Marks works in the pantry and cleans the Alliance offices.

Marks, 60, initally received therapy services at Monarch’s Behavioral Health outpatient office on Navaho Road in Raleigh. His therapist referred Marks to Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services. The IPS staff works in collaboration with the behavioral health professionals to assist people in achieving their personal and professional goals.

Angel Freeman, employment support professional, was paired with Marks and set out to find him employment and a place to call home. Early in the process, he faced some additional setbacks after the passing of his grandson and undergoing knee surgery, but IPS staff developed a plan to help overcome life’s challenges. Marks is also unable to read and works through this disability memorizing the way a word appears and other strategies.

He wasn’t afraid to ask for help

A teamwork approach worked effectively for Freeman and Marks as they completed job and residence applications as well as practiced for interviews. Marks eventually secured a studio apartment where he now resides.

“Mr. Marks has come a long way since the first time we met – earning a job and maintaining an apartment. Through adversity and hard work he is in a better place in life,” Freeman said.

“He did not allow not being able to read or write hinder him. He wasn’t afraid to ask for help and let you know what barriers he needed to overcome,” Freeman said of Marks. “I am so proud of him for not giving up. Moreover, he is a really hard worker.”

What advice does Marks give others? “I want to let people to know that just because you have a handicap, don’t let that hold you down . . . You can’t get upset. Every day isn’t going to be easy . . . Life keeps going,” Marks shared.

Photo caption: Benjamin Marks​