10/24/08 — Despite disabilities, Heath finds success

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Despite disabilities, Heath finds success

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 24, 2008 1:46 PM


Michael Heath of Goldsboro loves his job at Adam's Auto Wash, especially the pressure washer. It's just fun, says Heath, who is very intent when he is at work in the preparation area just before the automated part of the car wash. And that is why Heath's boss is glad he hired him, because he is motivated, focused and dependable.

You would never know Michael Heath had a learning disability unless he told you.

The disability hasn't stopped him from getting a job, although it did slow him down in school.

The learning disability came when he was 6 years old, caused by a stroke that resulted from having chicken pox and meningitis at the same time.

"I had to re-learn everything," Heath said.

When the youngster returned to school, he had trouble, especially with reading.

"I overcame that," he said.

Today, Heath is 20 and has overcome a lot of challenges since the illness, including getting a job at the Adam's Auto Wash on Spence Avenue.

Reading is still not his favorite thing. And when you say something to him, it might look like he's not listening.

But he is. It just takes him a little longer to process what you just said.

And it doesn't stop him from missing a beat when he is getting cars ready to go through the automated part of the car wash.

Heath is a good employee, Adam's Manager Stephan Swearingen said.

"Everything is going great," said Swearingen, who is returning to Goldsboro for the second time.

This is not his first time employing clients from Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which sent Heath over to apply for a job two months ago.

The agency matches people with disabilities with employers who will meet their needs and are looking for good employees.

When he managed the local Adams three years ago, the Goldsboro Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities named Swearingen Employer of the Year.

Heath is his fourth employee referred by Vocational Rehab, and he is has always been glad he hired them.

"They're motivated and focused. Their main priority when they come here to the facility is work, and that is hard to find in today's world, especially with their age group," Swearingen said.

A lot of Swearingen's employees are in high school or college. Not many come in with the intent of making the car wash their career, although that is what he ended up doing.

He started his career doing what Heath is doing now and has been with Adams Car Wash 13 years.

"The car wash is my life," he said.

And Heath likes it a lot, too.

"I like the pressure washing best," he said. "I don't know why. It's just fun."

What Heath is doing at Adams is a very important part of what goes on at the car wash, Swearingen said.

"It will take him 30 seconds to do back there what it would take a person out front with a towel three or four minutes to do," he said. "You have to have an eye for detail (in the prep area). And Mike does."