E.T.P. Spotlight: Caleb Griswold

Employment Training Program 

By Claire Davidson


Caleb Griswold is a recent graduate of the Friendship Circle Employee Training Program. With his trademark limitless energy and compassion, he excelled in the program, just as he has in all areas of his life.

At birth, Caleb was diagnosed with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum: a disorder where the tissue that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain never fully develop. His doctor gave a diagnosis that painted little hope, sharing that Caleb could experience seizures and lack fine motor skills. After years of physical therapy, Caleb miraculously started walking independently at age nine. Now 22 years old, Caleb applies that same tenacity and grit towards his two biggest passions, animals and art.

At age 13, Caleb began volunteering at Muttland Meadows, an enclosed 7-acre dog park in Grafton, WI. Beyond merely visiting every so often, Caleb went above and beyond to take diligent care of the park throughout all four seasons. Seeing a lack of fresh water for the dogs, he pulls a wagon carrying gallons upon gallons of water to fill all of the dishes throughout the park. He asked local businesses to donate plastic bags, which he collects every week to replenish the park’s poop bag supply. He knows all dogs and owners who visit the park and greets them by name. His hard work has earned him the title “Mayor of Muttland Meadows”-- a duty he does not take lightly.

As Caleb grew older, a high school art teacher noticed his keen eye for color and composition. He began honing his art skills and his work started to win awards. One pivotal day, while selling postcards of his art at a conference, Caleb cheerfully offered to paint pictures of people’s dogs. People loved it! Seeing the happy customers inspired Caleb to turn painting pets into his own business: Paintings and Paws by Caleb. His current waiting list for commissions is around 20 people long.

While selling his art at a recent event, he went around the room and introduced himself to every vendor. One of whom happened to be Terry Miller, the Special Educator Director from Friendship Circle. Recognizing Caleb’s talent and limitless energy, Terry thought he would thrive in the Employee Training Program and immediately invited him to participate.

For the last six months, Caleb came to Friendship Circle with a beaming smile and excitement to work. Chrissie Pappas, the Employment Training Manager, saw him succeed throughout the program, noting he especially grew his time management skills and his ability to receive and respond to constructive criticism. He also learned how to follow and execute a written recipe: and, having a big sweet tooth, always enjoyed the rewards of his hard work.

Caleb’s exuberance and sociability are not only what brought him to Friendship Circle, they are his biggest strengths. He loves talking about his passions and has become good friends with his coworkers. Caleb is always eager and willing to be helpful to others.

An exceptional person who is kind to all, Caleb radiates a passion for life. Through the Friendship Circle Employment Training Program, he not only strengthened his individual skillset but also feels that he has a new family and a community of people to call his own.

To apply or learn more about ETP: fcwi.org/job