Want to be inspired? Keep reading!
Jeffrey Kautz is a young man with a wealth of talent. A well-educated, award-winning musician, a music teacher, and a mentor to students and adults with disabilities, Jeffrey is equal parts gifted and kind.
From a very young age, Jeffrey demonstrated a passion for music. A natural talent, Jeffrey garnered many awards both in his youth and in adulthood. In high school he received 19 NYSSMA Gold Medals in a variety of instruments including classical guitar, jazz drum set, snare drum, marimba, and timpani. He further received All-State recognition on Snare Drum, Marimba, and Timpani.
Despite all of these honors if you were to ask Jeffrey what his most treasured achievement in high school was, he would share that it is not music-related at all. Instead, Jeffrey would articulate that it is the time he spent while teaching, coaching, and mentoring students with disabilities in a weekly Physical Education class during his four years of high school.
After graduating high school, Jeffrey attended the prestigious Mannes School of Music in New York City. With the acceptance rate sitting at approximately 24%, garnering an invitation to attend this program is no small feat. As his course work was coming to completion at Mannes, Jeffrey concluded his experience by becoming the only solo timpanist to win the Mannes School of Music Concerto Competition. For Jeffrey, this was only the tip of the musical iceberg! An immense talent, beyond years and measure, on his twenty-first birthday Jeffrey would give the performance of a lifetime. Jeffrey was hand-selected to perform at the Czech Consulate in New York City for Drumming for the Bubny Holocaust Memorial Service. Following his riveting performance, Jeffrey attended a State Dinner with ambassadors from the United Nations.
Jeffrey continued to further develop his musical aptitudes attending graduate school at New York University Steinhardt where he received his Master’s Degree in Music. During his final semester at NYU Jeffrey performed as an actor, with a role as a drummer, in the HBO series “Plot Against America.”
This summer Jeffrey joined the team at the Winters Center for Autism as an Administrative Clerk. He recently lent his musical prowess to the center at a very special event. On October 4th, the Inaugural Joe Winters Golf Outing was held at the Old Westbury Golf and Country Club. To cap off the day’s festivities attendants transitioned to the evenings events honoring the life and legacy of the Winters Center for Autism’s founder, Joe Winters.
As the night progressed the time arrived for Jeffrey to bridge his love of music with his passion for giving. As he waited in the wings, to be introduced to a room of 400 guests, Jeffrey’s excitement grew in anticipation of his performance.
What transpired once he took the stage was nothing short of breathtaking. Jeffrey entered the room, approached his marimba, and with intricate detail positioned his mallets. Preceded by one deep breath Jeffrey meticulously, with extreme focus and precision executed his first piece, Yellow After the Rain composed by Mitchell Peters. He finished his first installment and was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Humbly, Jeffrey thanked the audience only to quickly remind everyone of the genesis of the event, immediately acknowledging Joe Winters, and all that he has done for the autism community. Without pause he prepared for his next piece, Flight of the bumblebee by composer Rimsky Korsakov, again finishing to another standing ovation.
It was a beautiful day, complimented with a magical evening courtesy of the musical talents of Jeffrey Kautz!
To truly understand and appreciate the magnitude of Jeffrey’s accomplishments we leave you with a quote from Jeffrey.
“Sometimes in life, we are presented with obstacles that shape our lives forever. Autism has made me a hardworking, loyal and caring person. I hope I can inspire others to achieve their dreams.”
Feeling inspired? Do you own a business and want to partner with us and “Hire for a Higher Purpose?” Please contact the Winters Center for Autism at (631) 635-1169.
“One of the best feelings in a long time occurred after dropping Nicole off at Winters Bros. for her shift. Approximately two hours later Nicole sent me a text; ‘Hey Dad I’m at work hope you’re having a nice day’.” Elated, Peter went on to say, “There’s nothing better than that!”
- Peter, Nicole’s dad, July 2021 (three months after Nicole’s started the program).
In April of 2021, Nicole’s dad reached out to the Winters Center for Autism in search of an environment that would give his daughter the opportunity to receive a work training experience in an inclusive, productive environment outside of their home. Although Nicole had been active in many programs when she was in high school, things were far less accessible to her after graduation. After graduating high school with few options, even more narrowed by the pandemic, Nicole’s parents felt the WCFA seemed like a match for Nicole. After meeting with Nicole, and her dad, the team at the center felt it was evident that Nicole’s training would best be suited at Winters Bros. Waste Systems of Long Island.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9am the atmosphere in Winters Bros. gets a little brighter upon Nicole’s arrival. Her beautiful smile and sweet demeanor radiate the lobby the second she crosses the threshold. What usually follows next is an exchange anyone would have with their coworkers when they arrive for a new day at work. For Nicole it begins with greeting Arlene at the front desk, and a brief conversation about their respective mornings. From there Nicole goes to her desk, checks her schedule, and begins the day.
Nicole has a variety of responsibilities at Winters Bros., and many coworkers that she enjoys engaging with throughout the morning. When she is working at her desk on a task for Marco in HR she is working alongside Raymond. When Nicole waters plants in finance it is Stephanie that welcomes her every Thursday as Nicole waters plants of all varieties, shapes, and sizes. Having worked on this task since May, she has developed quite a green thumb! This multifaceted young woman also helps ensure the safety for those that visit the Winters Bros Gym when she cleans and sanitizes the equipment in the gym, while also stocking and taking inventory on the cleaning materials and water bottles housed at the facility.
In a short amount of time Nicole has made her mark on the company. Sara from Human Resources communicated the impact Nicole has made at Winter Bros., “Nicole has been a huge help to Human Resources. Without her keeping our files up to date, we wouldn’t be able to carry out our HR processes. Nicole is a great part of our department!” Nicole feels equally happy with her experience at Winters Brothers. Working at Winters Bros. makes her feel, “Proud because I feel like I’m doing something good for the community.” When asked what was her favorite part about being at Winters Bros. her response is typical of anyone her age, “Hanging out with my friends!”
Nicole’s family has conveyed their happiness with the program and the positive impact of Nicole’s training experience on their family. “We are extremely grateful for the support and opportunity provided to Nicole by Winters Bros. She is able to join in family conversations on what we did that day and always has positive experiences to relate.”
The cumulative sum to all these parts; the coworkers, the tasks, and the experience of training at an organization that embraces neurodiversity, is the very reason Nicole was inclined to send her dad the text she crafted. Like anyone else her age she was just a young adult, checking in with a parent, wishing them well, from WORK!
If you are a caring community business that understands the significance of the text message Nicole sent to her dad, we ask you to join our mission to “Hire for a Higher Purpose”. In doing so we will grow closer to increasing the employment rate for adults with Autism. We thank Winters Bros. Waste Systems for their support and offer any business on Long Island the opportunity to work with us by contacting the center at 631-635-1169.
Winters Center for Autism Team
The Winters Center for Autism is committed to enhancing the quality of life for adults with autism through job creation, training and placement while helping businesses to develop and implement programs to employ people with autism.