Updated: May 28, 2019
by Sofia Bianchi, Founder
Ausome is always trying to make our platform a better, more informed place to provide services to the worldwide autism and learning disabilities community, while the challenges that autism places on individuals tend to vary from case to case. That is why every Wednesday, founder of Ausome Sofia Bianchi volunteers at an organization in Middletown, NJ called OASIS tlc to meet and learn more about her #ausome peers. OASIS tlc is an organic farm in Monmouth county which hosts a residency and day internship program for young adults with autism. This not-for-profit organization teaches life skills to adult autistic youth by employing their skills on an in-house organic farm, weekly farmstand, and Wednesday luncheons. Student interns at OASIS engage in sustainable repurposing of items, and selling their fresh products and merchandise to visitors and guests.
On a Wednesday afternoon in April I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with master-conversationalist Kevin Molokie, a 22-year old student intern at the OASIS tlc farmhouse in Middletown, New Jersey.
Molokie has a reputation at OASIS for his finely-tuned manners and his ingenious tendency of uplifting all who cross his path. Characteristically, he is standing eagerly to greet me with his bulbous, gentle eyes as I enter the den. Molokie is stylishly dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a New York Giants t-shirt. Positive energy simply leaks out of him. Before I can even say a word to begin our interview, he addresses me, saying, “Hi Sofia, how are you today?” Molokie has a very distinct, profound voice: it is smooth, clear, and even-toned.
I smile and respond that I am doing well, taking my seat. In the time I have spent at OASIS I have come to learn that it is very in-character for Molokie to have been the first to have asked me how I was doing, at his interview. Molokie pulls over a chair and takes his seat. He watches patiently and curiously as I pull my laptop from my bag and set myself up.
To begin, I ask Molokie about what his favorite activity is while interning at the OASIS farm. He smiles a kind, contagious smile.
“It’s so hard to choose which one is my favorite,” he starts, his eyes brightening, “but I have to say that I really love Sustainable Science with Sean,” he concludes. It comes as no surprise to me that Molokie is passionate about work that does well to preserve and sustain the environment. Molokie tells me that Sean Walsh, Adjunct Instructor for Sustainable Science, is one of his favorite role models at OASIS. "Sean’s really nice, and he teaches me a lot about the harvesting process,” he adds. Molokie also mentions that while working in Sustainable Science, he has the chance to work and learn alongside his good friend, Sam, a fellow intern at OASIS. "Those guys really mean a lot to me," he says, nodding sincerely.
I ask Molokie to talk to me about the types of activities he performs in sustainable science, and he eagerly continues with an intricate explanation about the mechanics of the greenhouse crop-yielding process. He mentions that his tasks involve measuring the growth of the crop-yield, monitoring the fish tank and irrigation systems, and feeding the koi fish. The greenhouse, located no more than twenty yards out the backdoor of the farmhouse, is finely tuned to facilitate luscious, healthy crops...the same that are served fresh at OASIS tlc's Spring teas and summertime Sunday luncheons. I tell Molokie to remind me towards the end of our chat to give me a tour of the greenhouse, so that I can acquire some perspective. He nods vigorously and says, “Of course, I would love to do that.”
In the meantime, Molokie tells me about the several other roles he performs at OASIS, further proving that his terrific personality is matched with impressive versatility. Every other Wednesday, Molokie helps set the tables for the by-reservation tea service held in the OASIS dining room. This includes setting up the tables and chairs, and putting out the table cloths, sugar, and china. On Thursdays, Molokie is hard at work honing his woodworking skills with Van Samothrakis, OASIS’s Adjunct Instructor for Woodworking. In woodworking class with Samothrakis, Molokie has learned how to create birdhouses, fences, stables, and electric fences to protect the crops and contain the well-oiled ecosystem. Molokie further adds that he enjoys ceramics class, where he creates bowls and plates to be sold at the OASIS farmstand. Sure enough, I notice examples of Molokie’s beautiful work put out on display on shelves in the den and in the OASIS dining room where the Wednesday tea services are held.
Molokie emphasizes that he especially loves the teamwork aspect of the various activities he performs at OASIS, and feels satisfied knowing that with the help of his friends and role models, he is making a difference in both the ecological environment and the local community. He is quite evidently one of the most multi-faceted, hardworking social butterflies I have met.
Aside from the various tasks he performs diligently in the workplace, Molokie is eager to share with me his plethora of hobbies that he pursues in his downtime.
He stops to gaze at each of the crops like a proud parent.
“I love to watch movies and sports, and read books too. My favorite author is Matt Christopher, and my favorite teams are the New York Mets and the New York Giants,” Molokie says, revealing that he is quite the sports fanatic. Molokie also tells me that his favorite movie genre is action, adding that he especially loves X Men, The Spiderman Movies, The Marvel Universe, The New York Giants and The New York Mets. As it turns out, Molokie and I share many of these interests in common, and consequently, we start off on a tangent about the latest movie to smash box offices nationwide: Marvel’s Endgame. Once we finally rein in our excitement, I suggest that Molokie take me outside for a tour of the greenhouse, as promised.
Molokie happily leads me to the back door, chivalrously guiding me to the greenhouse in the back of the property. It is a triumphant, domed structure, glinting proudly in the sunlight, adjacent to a row of solar panels on one side, and a flourishing vegetable garden on another. Molokie leads me inside, and I am immediately hit with a gust of warm, misty air and the aroma of fresh rosemary. He goes around and names each crop: arugula, watercress, parsley, basil, rosemary… the list goes on. He stops to gaze at each of the crops like a proud parent.
We leave the greenhouse through the back entrance, and Molokie asks if he can show me more. Of course I am pleased, and I curiously follow along as he points out the crops that are grown in the vegetable garden. I listening intently as Molokie explains to me how natural solutions are used on the crops to drive away pests without killing the soil. I notice how large, juicy tomatoes are reddening on swirly green stems, and sprouts of lettuce are beginning to peek out of the earth at the kiss of the day’s warm weather. We pass rows of colorful tulips as we make our way back to the farmhouse, and the willow trees lining the path sway daintily in the spring breeze.
His words are so sincere and so pure, that the light streaming in through the tree branches, illuminating his face, might as well be forming a halo around his head.
As we near the end of our interview, I ask Molokie what his dream goal is for his future. Molokie looks up at me and does not hesitate for a moment, as if pulling the answer right from his t-shirt pocket, where it resides daily.
“My goal is to keep doing well every day, and to continue to do sustainable science because it’s something I really love, and I especially want to be married to a beautiful girl and raise a family of my own someday,” he says. His words are so sincere and so pure, that the light streaming in through the tree branches, illuminating his face, might as well be forming a halo around his head.
“That’s beautiful, Kev,” I answer, holding my heart. We approach the back door once again, where a cluster of interns are preparing to exit the farmhouse for their next item on the agenda.
Anyone should be so lucky, I think to myself, as Kevin holds the door for his fellow interns on their way to their next daily activity.
Sofia Bianchi is the founder of Ausome and the sister to #Giulio. She volunteers at OASIS tlc, a non-for-profit autism organization in New Jersey providing education and life skills workshops for young adults on the autism spectrum. Sofia believes that the world can benefit tremendously by coming together to cater towards the global autism and learning disabilities community. More on Sofia's mission under the Ausome Mission Statement.