If you had to describe Rachel in one word, it would be sociable. She’s that bubbly person who rarely lets you pass without saying, “Hello, how are you?” no matter how cranky you might appear.
Rachel is always ready with a smile, and chances are you’ll smile back.
“Rachel is an enthusiastic young woman,” said Maya Tarter, Client Services Coordinator with the Life & Work Connections program at Boone County Family Resources. “She is curious and demonstrates an interest in other people’s lives. She follows up on conversations about pets and family and expresses a genuine compassion for the well-being of others.”
Three years ago, Rachel, 23, transitioned to BCFR’s Life & Work Connections, where she began receiving services designed to prepare her for more independence and community employment. Part of her training included a stint with the L&WC janitorial crew, whose members clean the agency’s office building. The value of the crew is it helps participants develop skills necessary to secure and maintain employment, such as how to communicate with a boss and co-workers, dependability, teamwork and initiative.
Rachel also participated in the first College for Living class last fall. The new program offered by BCFR’s Life & Work Connections gives high school graduates with developmental disabilities the chance to learn about life skills on a college campus, which in this case is Columbia College. The inaugural class of six students learned about such things as budgeting and money management, safety at home and in the community, healthy living, apartment planning, time management and planning future goals.
Rachel’s participation on the work crew and in College for Living was an invaluable experience that not only built her work skills but boosted her confidence. She continues to work with BCFR Community Skills Specialist in strengthening her ability to balance life at home with work responsibilities.
“Achieving these goals and acquiring new skills have set the foundation for her to locate and secure community employment,” said Jamie Short, a BCFR Community Skills Specialist who works with Rachel. “She now has a strong base of skills along with her positive, outgoing personality to continue to achieve her personal goals and maintain employment.”
In December, Rachel joined the staff at JoAnne’s Fabric where she can use her love of sewing and her new work skills.
“I am proud of being an employee,” said Rachel, adding the store is “big, fun, interesting with lots of arts and crafts. I like working with new people and get excited to go to work.”
Rachel credits the training she received through BCFR for her success.
“The work crew and College for Living made it easier for me to get and keep my job I have now,” she said. “It taught me how to get along with other people and help co-workers. It also taught me to be responsible and on time.”