“If we can give somebody else the feeling of productivity, belonging, and purpose that I know my brother felt, then that to me is the biggest thing in the world,” said Brian Steele about his generous donation to Goodwill of Orange County’s Deaf Services on behalf of his late brother, Jeremy.
Jeremy’s story began as a child in South Korea where he was found in a morgue alongside another young boy named Josiah. Both deaf and disabled, the two boys were abandoned. In South Korea, children with disabilities are often put in mental institutions or left unwanted at the hospital by their family. Lucky for Jeremy and Josiah, a missionary found the pair and took them to an orphanage. On the way to the orphanage, Jeremy wandered off and was lost for several years living on his own in the streets of Seoul. He was later found and reunited with Josiah at the orphanage.
On the other side of the world lived Brian’s family, who had a history of adopting international children with disabilities. The missionary who found Jeremy and Josiah in South Korea first approached the Steele family to sponsor and adopt Josiah, as he had been living at the orphanage for a long period of time. Jeremy was later adopted by the Steele’s and moved to the United States as a young teenager. At this time, he had neither language nor processing skills.
Jeremy attended a local high school and went to community college for a few years. He had processing difficulties and struggled to maintain attention to detail, which ultimately cost him several jobs and forced him to isolate himself. It wasn’t until he began working at Goodwill of Orange County that he truly began to flourish. Jeremy was employed by Goodwill of Orange County for approximately 20 years before unexpectedly passing away on September 7, 2015.
Brian reflects on how Goodwill of Orange County was able to provide his brother with a place to feel safe and accepted. Because of the support of Beth from Deaf Services and the entire organization, Jeremy had the confidence to live on his own, pay bills, make meaningful connections, and more. Brian jokes that Goodwill had to force Jeremy to take vacation time because his brother loved Goodwill so much and refused to ever leave – he would have spent the night if he could!
Brian credits Jeremy’s quality of life to Goodwill of Orange County’s services and for giving him the chance to form his own identity and live an independent life. “Jeremy so often wanted to give up on himself, but Goodwill of Orange County never gave up on him,” said Brian.
Goodwill of Orange County opens doors by providing services to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing enter the workforce and obtain sustainable employment. Some of the programs offered through Deaf Services include Independent Living Skills (ILS), Work Experience, Job Placement Services and Job Coaching. To learn more about Goodwill of Orange County’s Deaf Services Program, please visit: https://www.ocgoodwill.org.