Student Spotlight:

Justin Puharic

On June 7, 1996, an angel entered into our family. Justin’s outgoing personality spreads joy and puts smiles on many faces. Although he has faced many medical problems over the years, he has survived them all without a complaint. The Lord has given Justin many gifts to share and he does. He loves sports and plays basketball and soccer with the Special Olympics and is on two Challenger baseball teams. He loves music and is a great dancer. He is a Third Degree Knight in the Art Rooney Senior Council 9984 associated with St. Bonaventure Parish where he is an active parishioner and participates in the Tootsie Roll Drive in order to give back to the Program that gave him so much.

We cannot say enough about the St. Anthony’s School Program and what it did for our son. We learned of the Program before Justin was of school age and knew we wanted to send him there. At the admission appointment, we witnessed the genuine love in the smiling face of Lisa George for our child and knew we were making the right decision.

Justin attended St. Alexis School in Wexford for nine years where he was included in many classes. In the Resource Room he worked on reading and math, along with daily living skills and speech. It was such a joy to watch Justin participate in the Christmas pageants, etc. He had several aides there that still keep in contact with him, one of which has recently invited him to her upcoming wedding.

He attended Bishop Canevin for High School where he was sometimes referred to as “the Mayor”. Over the four years, he had numerous opportunities at various worksites throughout the Pittsburgh area including a hospital, restaurant, hotel, food bank, and other nonprofit organizations. Here is one example of the byproduct of Justin’s education and job training. We were approached at a Special Olympics event by an employee of one of these work sites, who said she just had to tell us what a good worker he was and how much they enjoyed having him work there. That comment reinforced the value of his attending the St. Anthony Program. One of Justin’s favorite memories of his Bishop Canevin years was being a part of the Art Club. He made some fantastic pieces which he proudly displays in our home thanks to Mrs. Kennedy’s kindness and love for our children.

Justin spent three years at Duquesne University in the post-secondary program. Over those three years, he worked at various sites on campus, Carnegie Library for the Blind, the Department of Court Records, Magee Hospital, Reed Smith, Pittsburgh Housing Authority, and St. Paul’s. He would never have been able to get this diverse job training at any other institution in Pittsburgh. Justin also learned many other important things at Duquesne, including budgeting and healthy eating, etc. along with daily living skills such as cooking and cleaning at the apartment with his dear “Hanley” who he is blessed to have known and loved for over 16 years. Justin was also a co-manager of the Duquesne Duke’s football team last year entertaining the fans during the breaks in action with his dance skills. After 16 years in the program, Justin graduated in May of this year. He enjoyed his time at the podium thanking his teachers and aides, another Laurel and Hardy escapade.

Justin now has a job at the Kuhn’s Market in Glenshaw where he is well liked by all. He is interested in getting a second job in one of the many things he likes to do. One day he hopes to be famous!  We have truly been blessed by God with our Justin and in turn the St. Anthony Program has blessed us.

justin puharic student spotlight