Daily inspiration

Man, 58, with Dandy-Walker Syndrome got his first job working for company Monkey Hook and is model employee.

November 17, 2010|By Michael Miller,
  • David Kurrasch, left, visits Robert Christensen, as they examine a Monkey Hook, one of the products Christensen packages at Elwyn, a non-profit organization that employs developmentally disabled individuals.
David Kurrasch, left, visits Robert Christensen, as… (DON LEACH )

They called him Bobby then, not Robert, and he was never part of David Kurrasch's clique growing up.

The boys grew up less than a mile apart in a quiet neighborhood in Santa Ana, and they saw each other often; Kurrasch's best friend, Eric Christensen, was Bobby's younger brother. But while the three of them hung out under the same roof, their paths rarely crossed.

Eric and David played with G.I. Joe figures. Bobby didn't join in.

Eric and David walked or drove themselves to school. Bobby was bused to a special school miles away.

Eric and David were the same age. Bobby was five years older.

"He wasn't my close friend, but I knew him well," Kurrasch said. "I would always chat with him when I went over there."

Four decades later, Kurrasch and Bobby — who now prefers Robert Christensen to his childhood nickname — have a closer bond, one that goes beyond simple friendship.


Kurrasch founded Monkey Hook, a company that manufactures small metal wall hooks, in 2004. Moved by his own experiences with an autistic son, he soon enlisted Elwyn California, a Fountain Valley nonprofit that provides work for developmentally disabled people, to provide an assembly line for his product.

For nearly two years now, Robert Christensen has worked five days a week in Elwyn's Work Activity Center, sorting through piles of thin, silver Monkey Hooks and fitting them into plastic cases. It's not just busywork to give him and others something to do — every container of Monkey Hooks, which are sold by retailers nationwide, ships out of that building at 18325 Mt. Baldy Circle.

And even though the two exchanged little more than hellos growing up, Kurrasch knows that he's an important figure now in Robert's life.

"Every time I go to Elwyn, he knows when I'm in the building," Kurrasch said. "He looks forward to our conversations because I make a point to say hello, see what he's doing, what he's working on.

"But he has a radar. He knows when I'm there."

A first paycheck

Robert rises before 8 a.m. five days a week at his assisted-living home in Anaheim, gets a bus ride to Elwyn and takes his seat in a crowded warehouse where plastic casings, unassembled media kits and outdated software — needing to be scrapped — line the long tables.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles