After Williams and Givens graduated, they weren't sure what they wanted to do next. They knew they wanted to continue their work with developmentally disabled people, though, still seeing the need to help, and the idea for a business came soon after.
"When we left high school, people around the county were like 'don't stop doing what you're doing, you guys have a huge thing sitting for you, you're doing the right thing, there's a lot of people out there that need this' and we basically saw it as an opportunity and we jumped on it," Williams said.
The two received help from Givens' mother, who works at a title company, and avoided paying larger fees for starting the business with her help. They were already doing sporadic work with respite care, offering home care to parents of disabled children they knew from school connections.
These parents, experienced with care for the disabled helped them with getting the necessary insurance and training to do respite care full-time. Initially working out of Givens' house, the two moved to an office on South Main Street in Bel Air in January 2012, forming their LLC at the same time.
Praise from parents
Cerruto heard about the pair from their work at Patterson Mill from a former co-worker whose child attended the school.
Cerruto started using their services this year, having them help to get her son off of the bus after school and engage him in different activities, from taking him swimming or going to the store to run errands.
"I am just blown away by the fact that two young men in high school decided to become involved with kids with disabilities. Kids that age feel like they don't want to be bothered," Cerruto said. "They know that there is a need out there and learned this early on for the families that did respite care."
Cerruto said that the two have had a "tremendous impact" on her son, as his behaviors can prove challenging.
"They don't see him as having a disability; they see him a person first, a person who should have opportunities to do things," Cerruto said. "A lot of times they can get my son to do stuff that I struggle with. They get him to do stuff that I tell him twenty times to do. They tell him once and he does it."
Donna Dulski met Williams at a community swimming pool three to four years ago, where she would take her son Ryan, who has moderate to severe autism and an Arnold-Chiari malformation of the brain.
She found herself apologizing whenever Ryan would act up. Williams, one of the pool's lifeguards at the time, introduced himself and told her about his work with Givens and told her they would be willing to help in any way. She spoke to another parent who had worked with Williams, and she decided to have him help her son.
"He started to take him mainly once a week at the Arena Club to their pool up there," Dulski said of Williams. "Before him, I had to kind of do everything myself. I didn't know help was out there."
Ryan enjoys spending time with Williams, Dulski said, even going with him to get scheduled blood work every few months.
"He doesn't do well with me, so Jon does better with him," Dulski said regarding the blood work. "They're going to Hershey Park at the end of the month, something by myself I could never take Ryan to."
"Ryan enjoys it, hanging out with another male," Dulski said. "I'm divorced, and he doesn't see his father much."
"They're so mature for their ages and such an inspiration, a godsend and a blessing. I just love them both. I don't know what I'd do without them," Dulski said. "I've never met two young men like them and probably never will."
Williams and Givens' vision for the future is to provide everything the family of a disabled person would need.
"We want provide P&J's Life Skills as a one stop shop, whether you're looking for an adult day program or you're looking for an after school day care program that is willing to take your siblings and your child with disabilities," Williams said. "That's what we envision, having the different therapies that you're looking for."
Williams treasures what he and Givens have learned running the business.
"You learn so much from the kids that you never think you would learn from them," Williams said. "You learn life skills of your own, maybe not even through anything that they actually physically tell you but you learn so much about your own life; how much you should be grateful. It's just like a wonderful thing to be a part of."