At 21 years old, Bruce Amstutz shows more grit and determination than many of his peers. Diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age, life has not been easy for Bruce. “It was hard at first because people picked on me when I was in school,” Bruce said. “But I just said, ‘You can say what you want about me, I’ll just push myself higher.’” Higher and higher he pushed, setting his sights on his future at the young age of 15, putting himself on the path to employment when he was a student at Grandview Heights High School. “I saw the custodians working at my school and wondered what that would be like,” Bruce said. He decided to speak with a job coach at the school about his interest in the work. “Then one day I just told him I would come in for free,” he said.
This turned into a regular volunteering opportunity during the summer, where he learned the ropes of custodial work. “I remember one of the school custodians commented that I must’ve done something wrong to do custodial work but I told him I just wanted to volunteer,” Bruce said. “He was shocked to hear that someone my age would want to do something like that.”
Bruce eventually enrolled in the Columbus City Schools Janitorial Program at Goodwill Columbus. The program helps students with disabilities from Columbus City Schools build custodial skills, opening doors for employment opportunities after graduation. While in the program, Bruce made an impact on his instructors and peers with his dedication to learning the skills needed for the job. He credits his instructor in the program, James Washington, with helping him develop into the professional he is today. “I’ve learned so much from Mr. Washington. He always told me you can’t give up on anything you do and that you always have to stay positive. Stay friendly, communicate, and always stay focused,” Bruce said.
When he graduated from the program, Bruce was hired on by Goodwill Columbus. “Seeing Bruce stay positive has an effect on the rest of the crew, even on the supervisors,” said Jeff Jones, Goodwill Columbus Janitorial Supervisor. “He’s got that motivation, no matter what job we give him, he just does it with a smile.” Never one to settle for the status quo, Bruce uses his entrepreneurial spirit to keep things interesting on the job. “Every day I just tell myself there's always something new to do. You know, custodial work gets boring sometimes but you’ve got to stay focused on having fun and enjoying what you do,” Bruce said. “If you don’t enjoy what you do, how are you going to do it every day? It’s going to get boring, and you’ll have a bad attitude, and everyone is going to see that.”
Bruce works joyfully and diligently every day, with clear goals in mind – financial independence and the dream of home ownership. When he is not working, Bruce helps to care for his brother, who has a developmental disability. His relentless determination to work hard and live independently is nothing short of extraordinary. Bruce was named one of Goodwill Columbus's 2013 Extraordinary People Honorees. Watch the video!
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