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Meet Austin!


Austin Allen has volunteered at the Pataskala Public Library for three years.

Austin Allen loves books and enjoys reading and watching movies.

So when he and his family were looking for an opportunity to volunteer in the community, his local library seemed like a great option.

Three years later, Austin continues to volunteer at the Pataskala Public Library three times a week, putting books, CDs and movies back on the shelves.

He and his mother Tina Allen, agree that its a good fit for him. It’s peaceful and the library staff and patrons have been very supportive.

Born and raised in Pataskala, Austin 23, graduated from Watkins Memorial High School in 2013.

Ultimately, his goal is to get a job, but his family wanted him have the opportunity to gain some employment skills, doing something he enjoyed.

Austin had been going to the Pataskala library since he was a child and was able to turn in his resume and get an interview for a volunteer position.

He started helping out one afternoon a week and now is up to three. He’s hoping to take on more hours in the summertime, Tina said.

“This is his niche,” she said. “He likes that it’s quiet here.”

Austin and his family have been supported by the Licking County Board of DD since he was about six years old, Tina said.

For the past three years, Austin has worked with an LCBDD employment support specialist and his service coordinator to prepare for the future.

LCBDD’s employment supports department supports or maintains contact with about 348 county residents, ages 14 to 24, connecting them with resources and opportunities to gain work experience.
In many cases, employment support specialists begin meeting with students when they turn 14, and begin helping them determine their career interests and how to pursue them after high school.

In his role at the Pataskala library, Austin was one of 70 young people supported by LCBDD who participated in summer work, career exploration or volunteering in 2017. 53 young adults are working competitive jobs in the community and more than 100 have been connected with vocational rehabilitation services.

For Austin, volunteering has been a way to give back, while he’s also identified if his interests could lead to a job.

Caleb Hegenberger, a clerk at the library, said Austin has been a consistent volunteer.

“He’s a pretty hard worker,” he said. “He comes in and does what he needs to do.”

When Austin isn’t helping at the library, he’s often reading at home. He loves all kinds of books — nonfiction books about dinosaurs, sharks and other animals, as well as comic books and superhero books.

He helps his parents keep their yard maintained and enjoys stacking wood and feeding their cats. He’s proud that he can prepare meals and help out around the house.

He’s recently gotten into photography and enjoys taking pictures of his family and nature, especially at Dawes Arboretum.

He is also looking forward to an upcoming family trip to Universal Studios, in Orlando, Florida.

Since he started volunteering at the library, Austin has learned a lot about how to sort books and movies and put them away based on their sticker.

“He’s come out of his shell a little bit,” Tina said, “His confidence has increased a little bit.”

Austin said he would like to learn to drive someday. He’s also hoping to get a job, possibly at a comic book shop.

“I like reading quietly,” he said. “I like being kind to others.”

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