Joshua Martinkovic is wrapping up a major chapter in his life—an 8 year run as a volunteer at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). On this particular afternoon, his family and friends have gathered at the ADEQ café to thank him for his contributions and to celebrate his success.
“I wish him the very best at all of his endeavors,” says coworker Lahmo Lemoine. “I just wish him continued growth and success as he moves through life and that he reaches his goals and dreams.”
Martinkovic has Aspergers, a form of autism, which can affect how a person interprets language, communicates, and socializes. As a child, he was also diagnosed with epilepsy and the related condition, Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).
Corky Martinkovic, Joshua’s mother says, “DEQ served to develop many compensatory skills for these disabilities that would have taken a much longer time, if ever, for him to develop under more traditional counseling or education settings.” She adds, “Real world experiences are always the best but require the consideration and cooperation of numerous people.”
Jean Ann Rodine worked closely with Joshua over the years, ensuring he was always busy with a project from data entry to organizing. Her wish for Joshua? “I hope that he finds a niche that he can fall into, to move forward, to progress, and to become more independent possibly.”
Edwina Vogan also worked with Josh on a regular basis, adding, “I want Joshua to be happy and around a lot of people that will support him in continuing to experience new things and learn new skills.”
A steady flow of ADEQ employees, like Bruce Friedl, stop at Martinkovic’s celebration to reminisce and to bid him farewell. “I wish him challenges and success in those challenges,” he says.
Martinkovic is touched by the friendships he has established, commenting, “I’ll miss the friendly environment and all the people who surround me. When you get around a lot, you tend to meet a lot of people.”
Corky says experiences like her son’s can’t happen without the support of great people at great organizations like ADEQ. She explains that she was also employed at ADEQ when Josh came on board eight years ago, but left for another opportunity. She was certain Joshua would have to go too, but recalls this conversation with the ADEQ Director at the time, Henry Darwin, Interim Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
“I said to him, ‘Well, I guess this is a close of Joshua’s time here as well?’ Henry’s quick response was, ‘Are you crazy? Of course not; he stays!’” Corky says that was invaluable for her and her son.
Martinkovic has developed incredible confidence. He has also become an advocate for himself and others.
He shares this final thought, “Keep the doors open and see what you can learn from the experience around other people, don’t isolate yourself.”
By Vielka Atherton