For many the new calendar year brings thoughts of setting personal goals and resolutions. For Norma, this new year is about celebrating a personal goal she has already achieved – finding a job in the community. Since October, she’s been working part-time at Rock Bridge High School as a cook and cashier in the student cafeteria.
“Norma has worked toward this goal for a while,” says Christi Brown, Community Skills Specialist with the Boone County Family Resources Life & Work Connections program. “Throughout the process of looking for a job, Norma wanted to be the one to initiate contact with a business – she does push herself.”
To reach her goal, Norma put in hours of communication and life skills training with Christi to help her gain the skills she needed for competitive employment. “We worked on conversational skills and initiating questions to prepare for getting a job,” says Christi. “When she was first hired at Rock Bridge, I observed her on the job to get feedback and to encourage communication between Norma and her supervisor. Now, we continue to meet at least once a week to improve upon the communication skills learned during training and discuss any other aspects of the job – like learning co-workers names or asking a question when she needs assistance or clarification on a task.”
When asked what her favorite part of her job is, Norma said “pretty much all of it.” Her supervisor says she’s always on time and ready to go. With time, Norma has become pretty comfortable with her duties in the cafeteria and she works fairly independently in a couple of different serving stations. She’s even been asked to fill in at other school locations when the staff there has been short-handed.
Although Norma enjoys her current job, she has dreams for something more. She loves working with animals and formerly volunteered at the Central Missouri Humane Society and attended training at a pet grooming school in St. Louis. Finding a paying job in that area was not easy to come by, however, but Norma hasn’t lost hope. She plans to save up money to have her own pet grooming business in the future. “Sometimes you have to push for something,” says Norma.
One of the first people in Missouri to benefit from the Partnership for Hope Waiver program, Norma has gained much since she started training with Life & Work Connections. Self-confidence and self-esteem blossomed as she was asked to publicly speak about how the waiver has enabled her to seek the life she wants to live. She also recently spoke publicly to a parent group gathered to learn about options available for students with disabilities after high school. When asked if that was hard to get up and speak in front of the group, Norma said, “Not anymore. It gets easier.”
It seems many things are becoming easier for Norma as she reaches the goals she’s established for herself and continues to build the best life she can.