In 2004, Greg Getchell joined Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) through the urging of his high school speech teacher, Mary Mahoney. Greg has come to know many PYD programs and opportunities over the years. He joined Making Healthy Connections (MHC) in Andover, MA in 2004. When Greg first began MHC, he would sit in the back of the room. Initially, he brought friends along with him, and they were the only people with whom he would communicate. As Greg experienced PYD, he began to open up. He moved to the MHC Boston program and started with Access to Theatre (ATT) Boston. ATT was the program that really made a difference in Greg’s ability to express himself.
ATT was a big hit with Greg because it helped lessen his anxiety about his public speaking class at school. The program aided him in speaking up; it opened him up to the possibilities of being on stage. Greg started to love making people happy through comedic routines. He was still shy at school, but Greg blossomed at PYD. He commented that “at PYD, it feels like a whole family. We all talk about our problems”.
Encouraged by PYD’s group mentoring programs, Greg’s personality transformed from shy and reclusive to talkative and engaged, leading to new interests and more possibilities. ATT was able to show him how to interact with others, and now, Greg sometimes babysits on weekends for his cousins. “[My cousins] have inspired me to be fun, and to have fun, while I babysit them”.
Greg went on to study business and database skills at Middlesex Community College where he earned a Certificate in Office and Business Support. Through an internship, Greg was offered a job shortly after graduation with the Federal Aviation Administration. If you ask him about his job, he’ll tell you that he is “living the dream”.
Part of Greg’s dream was to learn to fly. Taking the initiative to learn, Greg began speaking with several engineers he met at work. He was introduced to Steve who has thirty five years of flying experience. Taking off from Mansfield Airport, Greg learned the basics of flying. The scariest part for Greg was landing, but he succeeded, and overall, the experience was amazing. “If it wasn’t for [PYD], I wouldn’t be out there”.
Whenever he has the opportunity, Greg encourages others to join the programs at Partners for Youth with Disabilities. He often states that it is a place to learn and meet people. Greg believes that PYD has helped him to break out of his shell and that Partners for Youth with Disabilities will be “in my memories for a long time”.