For John Franz, watching the 10th season of Survivor was like going home.
“I am from the tiny island of Palau, which is near the Philippines,” he said with a bright smile on his face. “It was kind of nice to see my tiny island on national TV.”
John moved to the states in 1975 to attend college. He got married, had two kids, life was good. Then one evening, John’s wife fell asleep at the wheel. His world was turned upside down—he has been in a wheelchair ever since.
“When I started working again, I went through a lot of depression and needed someone to talk to, which they [PHCNW] had at the time,” he said. “There are times it is really difficult to be this in chair and start from the bottom; but it does not stop me from doing things I want to do and accomplishing my goals.”
John thrives off projects that challenge him, projects that require mind power and analysis. Right now he is busy developing cable harnesses, which are used for installing large capital equipment in factories. The construction of these control-system cable harnesses and power-system cable harnesses requires the ability to read electrical diagrams, experience operating wiring tools and the knowledge of test tools.
“I learn to adapt to do different things,” John said. “The wire part has to be accurate. If you mix the wiring, it could result in a potential fire.”
John applied back in 1994 and is currently a Lead employee in PHCNW’s industrial department.
“It is nice to be working with people with disabilities and to learn from them,” John said. “I like the people I work with, and I like the program and policies.”
Another aspect John likes about PHCNW is its housing program. After his divorce, John went to live with his brother. Living there was difficult because the house had a lot of stairs. Every time he needed to go somewhere, he had to get help going up the stairs and again going back down.
“You don’t know how much it meant to me that PHCNW offered housing,” he said. “I probably would have found a place, but it would have taken me a long time and it probably would have been a place I really wouldn’t have wanted to live. The house is accessible for someone in a wheelchair. They also work with HUD, which is a good program.”
If John isn’t working, he is spending his time outdoors. He loves fishing, hunting and camping in the spring and summer. He said that when he retires he wants to go back to Palau and start an outdoors-related business having to do with repairing and/or assembling fishing reels and rods. He said he also wants to go back to school and study computer programming.
“I would love to learn more about computers and learn how to really navigate a computer,” he said. “Then maybe someday when I retire I can go back to the island and share that knowledge with the people there.”
One of the biggest things John has learned since his accident is to be patient.
“If you are impatient you are not going to accomplish anything,” he said.