Breaking Ground 101 - My Path Back to Career after Traumatic Brain InjuryBy Drew Gilmer
Hello, my name is Drew Gilmer. My legal name is William Andrews Gilmer, but I’ve always used the name Drew. I am 49 years old and have lived in Middle Tennessee for most of my life.
The majority of my work career was spent at BMI, or Broadcast Music Incorporated. I truly enjoyed my time with BMI. I temporarily moved to New York City to work in the NY office. I lived in New York for nine years and then returned to Nashville in 2012.
I had only been back for a few weeks when I got in a bad car accident. Although I survived, this incident drastically changed my life. I developed “brain trauma” from the accident. It doesn’t really affect me, but it slowed my processing speed. Thus, I was unable to handle the large number of phone calls received at BMI.
Eventually, I left BMI to pursue a new career. I was hesitant, because I had been with BMI for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, I could not keep a job there with my slow processing speed. It was an uneasy feeling, but I really had no other options.
The first job I obtained was at Publix grocery store. I was familiar with grocery stores from a past job bagging items, so I worked in customer service. I quickly learned that Publix doesn’t have a cleaning service. Instead, all the cleaning is performed by the employees, especially in the customer service department. I could handle all my job duties, but the cleaning needs frustrated me.
I ended up leaving Publix and got a job at the Downtown YMCA. It was interesting working for the YMCA, because I used to go there with my father. I really enjoyed working for the YMCA, but my brain issue was causing me to be periodically late, and I eventually was fired.
I knew a woman who works for New Visions (a vocational services agency), and she was helping me to locate another job. She mentioned a “farm” for me to explore. I thought about it and decided to check it out. It’s called “Cul2vate” and is located in the Crieve Hall area, close to Overton High School.
We visited the site, and I was very impressed. It was a six-month program, and I decided it was a great opportunity. I don’t proclaim to be a farmer, but I enjoyed growing supplies for people. I was finally feeling a purpose in my work. It’s very gratifying to help people in this manner.
One aspect I truly respected about Cul2vate was that it was faith-based. We had meetings in the morning and discussed lessons from the Bible. This gave me a strong feeling of pride and desire to work harder. I’m still friends with the owners and plan to volunteer in the near future.
I was finally feeling positive about my work career and decided to take a few weeks off before a new job hunt. Most of my experience came from BMI, which is a Performing Rights Organization or PRO. Every country in the world has one PRO. In the U.S., however, there are three. The main two are BMI and ASCAP. I was done with BMI, but I had a desire to work at ASCAP.
I eventually got an opportunity to interview with someone at ASCAP. I was extremely excited because this was the one place I had related experience. I was motivated and completely happy at my interview. Fortunately, I was familiar with all the language from my BMI career.
I have really enjoyed my days at ASCAP. It’s essentially the same type of business as BMI, so everything is familiar. On top of that, I no longer answer phones, so I’m absolutely satisfied.