When Mike was a child he attended some regular education, some special education, and mental health programs. When Mike finished his formal education in the 197O’s he reported to a Psychologist that his vocational aspirations were to become a polka D.J., a TV camera-man, dark room photography, or electronic repair work. These aspirations were deemed to be unrealistic and caused Mike to be referred to a sheltered workshop. Roughly thirty years later Mike was identified as a candidate for Via’s Customized Employment services. Although Mike had the skills for entry level service jobs his interests remained in Polka, dark room photography, television, and electronic repair work.
Mike along with his employment specialist began the Discovery process and spent a lot of time researching dark room photography (Mike had no interest in digital photography). Mike also learned a lot about television, and electronic repair. It became pretty clear that Mike’s greatest passion was Polka music and its history. We found out that Mike new a local Polka legend whose name is Jolly Joe Timmer. Joe owns a local radio station that specializes in Polka. Joe agreed to give Mike a shot at his own one hour a week radio show which was a big hit. The problem was that to maintain the show Mike needed to bring in a certain level of advertising that we never were able to meet so we had to shut down the show. Mike and his employment specialist learned a lot about the Polka business and he now had absolutely NO interest in working a regular service job.
Soon after a newer Via staff Alan Heverly had a new idea we had not yet considered. What we had found was that Polka was a big hit with senior citizens. Alan had a sister in law who was an activity director in the nursing home industry, and was always struggling to find entertainment for her customers. Alan began to contact nursing homes and senior centers about their interest in having Mike play his music. Within a few weeks Mike had started his own Polka DJ business called “Polka Mike.” Mike started out with a lot of Polka until his customers asked for big band, and dance music as well. Mike now plays Polka, Big band, dance, party, and a variety of other types of music. This spring 2010, Mike already has 7 new DJ shows scheduled at various locations. Mike is also considering adding a karaoke component to his business. Mike received financial support from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and a business loan from the City of Bethlehem to get his business started.
Mike continues to receive support provided by Via’s Employment Reform Resource project staff. Mike’s business is really starting to take off and he is ahead of schedule paying back his loan. If you might be interested in having Mike do a party you can contact his marketing director Alan Heverly at (484) 224-6280.