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Hometown local kicks off career with help from CSO

Good News Tehachapi

Sarah Mouchet.

CSO Program Director Christina Pacheco (center) beams in excitement as Kaidyn Renfrow (right) receives his program graduation certificate. Manager Blaine Ferguson (left) was also presented with an outstanding leadership award by CSO on the store's behalf.

Kaidyn Renfrow, a client of the Community Support Options (CSO) program under Kern Regional Center, was signed on as an official employee at the Subway on Tucker Road on Tues., Jan. 30. This day marked the beginning of his first job.

Kern Regional Center (KRC) is one of 21 nonprofit, state-funded centers in California that provide services and support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The goal is to help them integrate better into their communities. KRC offers several programs that help prepare and place clients in jobs suited to their interests and abilities, CSO being one of these programs.

Kaidyn began his employment journey in a day program through KRC that is designed to help build the social and technical skills essential to holding a steady job. He then joined CSO where he was paired with his job coach Cheri Alcaraz and placed as an intern at Subway after consideration of his own goals and interests. Generally, CSO clients are placed in a year-long, fully-paid internship at their selected job with an on-site program coach to help them learn the job and adapt to new environments. This process tends to end in a formal hiring by the end of the internship.

After only four months, Kaidyn received an official job offer from Subway. With the support of his mentor Cheri and the willingness of Subway manager Blaine Ferguson to embrace his new mentee, Kaidyn soon came to be both good at and enthusiastic about his new sandwich artist job. Because of how fast he picked up the trade and how well he fits in at the store, Subway decided to extend an official job offer before Kaidyn's internship was even halfway through.

To celebrate Kaidyn's new job, Blaine saw that the store was decorated with colors from Kaidyn's favorite sports team, the Dolphins, and the store promoted the "Kaidyn Special'' for the day – a meatball sub. Blaine, CSO Program Director Christina Pacheco, Kaidyn's mentor Cheri and Kaidyn all gave heartfelt speeches during the celebration.

Sarah Mouchet.

Kaidyn Renfrow (right) with his job coach Cheri Alcaraz.

"I have nothing other to say than I'm so happy to be here with you all," Kaidyn said after receiving his award and signing his papers, adding on after a brief pause, a sweet and sincere thank you to his family, Subway, Cheri and CSO for helping him get to where he is now. Kaidyn is saving his money for a four wheel drive truck he can use to get to and from work.

Kaidyn is one of many successes fostered by the CSO program. Places like Red House BBQ, Love's Travel Stop, Mountain Coffee House (previously Kamenz Cafe) and Subway have all worked with CSO to gain dedicated, long-term employees who may not have otherwise had an opportunity for employment.

CSO takes on all liabilities and saves employers over 1,000 hours in training, all while giving people with disabilities a chance to work.

If you are a Tehachapi business interested in changing someone's life by giving them the opportunity to have a job, please call (661) 446-5989 or email [email protected].

Those interested in CSO or other programs offered by KRC may visit http://www.kernrc.org/contact-us/.

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