Brain tumor survivor finds new life in bachelor pad

WEST MELBOURNE, FL - At 33, Matthew Strobel wants the same things most guys his age want: a job, a home, independence, friends, a relationship.

He's a little on the shy side, but he's also a hard worker with a sly sense of humor.

Early in his adult life, those things seemed elusive.

When Matt was in first or second grade — he can't remember which — he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

"When they finally found it, it was so big, it was the size of a peach," he said. 

Nerves were damaged when the tumor was removed, leaving him almost completely blind.

"When I went to high school, I went to the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind," he said. After graduating in 2005, he spent another two years in St. Augustine. 

"But after that, it was time for me to come home," he said. "There wasn't really anything for people like me to do to get a job. ... Nobody gave me a chance."

For almost five years, he sat at home, lonely and bored.

In 2013, he started working at Promise in Brevard.

Now Matt spends his days working a sweet job baking cookies in the Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe in West Melbourne.

"My official title is cafe worker," he said. 

He uses touch to roll out cookies. A voice timer lets him know when his culinary creations are ready to come out of the oven.

Promise in Brevard is an independent living community in West Melbourne where young adults with special needs can live and work. The main Promise campus is still under construction and includes three apartment buildings and a community center.

Eventually, Matt will work in the Promise Bakery about a mile up the road next to the Space Coast Field of Dreams, an all-access sports park. He recently took the SafeStaff certification test for food service workers.

"I passed that test with flying colors," he said. "Got 100 percent."

Matt is in the process of moving into a Promise apartment he'll share with a roommate, and he can't wait. 

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Brain tumor survivor finds new life in bachelor pad