Local News

Disability doesn't discourage G.C.'s Alspach

Aaron Alspach has many hobbies and interests, but one prevails over the rest.

Date: 3/29/2010

Posted by Mosaic on 4/9/2010


By MONICA SPRINGER

mspringer@gctelegram.com

Alspach, of Garden City, is a big Kansas State University fan. On Thursday afternoon, the day of K-State's Sweet Sixteen victory in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, he wore a K-State hat, shorts and shoes.

While he unloads trucks and stocks shelves at the local Target store, he dreams of furthering his education at K-State, with the goal of eventually opening his own restaurant.

Running a restaurant isn't his only goal. He just wants to learn. He wants to learn about things like woodworking and criminal justice, too.

One might think being born with an intellectual disability as Alspach was would get in the way of such goals, but the 32-year-old already has accomplished so much while facing the challenges of his disability.

Alspach has worked at Target for three years. He applied for the job on his own and also applied to several other businesses in Garden City. He said he did two interviews with Target before getting the job.

"They're really nice people to work with," he said. "It's hard work."

He is a client of Mosaic, a faith-based organization that assists people with disabilities, and lives independently in an apartment.

The staff at Mosaic provide people with job related skills and an opportunity to get out on their own and see the world, Alspach said.

And with their help, that's exactly what Alspach hopes to do. He's already off to a pretty good start.

Alspach serves as the president of the People's Choice Council, which is a group of about 14 Mosaic clients who represent other clients, advocate for themselves and make trips to Topeka to speak with legislators.

Missy Baier, executive administrative assistant at Mosaic, has worked with Alspach on the People's Choice Council since he's been in Garden City.

As president, Alspach calls meetings to order, types agendas and often provides refreshments, Baier said.

"He's a valuable asset to our People's Choice Council," Baier said. "He takes his role as a client advocate very seriously."

March is National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and agencies that serve people with disabilities across the nation are holding events to raise awareness.

Last week, Mosaic invited Garden City clients, staff, and families to view "Music Within," a movie about how the American with Disabilities Act came to be. The People's Choice Council's signature event, an Easter egg hunt, is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday at Mosaic.

Alspach was born in Germany to parents who were in the Air Force. He lived in California for a few years before moving to Topeka, where he went to high school.

He's lived in Garden City for the past 10 years.

He lives in an apartment in Garden City with a puppy he bought a few months ago, a Chihuahua named Princess.

"She's like a companion to me," he said.

He works from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Target and said he enjoys his job.

He unloads the trucks and puts merchandise on the shelves before the store opens. He said his favorite part of the job is seeing the new products for the first time.

"It's different each day," he said.

Alspach said he also likes swimming, watching football and going bowling. When he's not working, he enjoys watching sports and television. He recently made Emeril Lagasse's recipe for garlic butter and enjoyed it.

Other Food Network personalities he enjoys include Rachael Ray and Paula Deen. And when he's not watching cooking shows, he's thinking of items he can put on his menu at his future restaurant.

Alspach said he wants to feature American and Italian cuisine, and he said an item on the menu will be a Wildcat hamburger.

Staff at Mosaic said Alspach is pleasant to be around and an asset to the agency.

"I'm very proud of Aaron for his achievements," Baier said.