By Lori Burrus, Coordinator of Developmental Disabilities Programs, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
VOICE and CHOICE for all program participants are priorities at YAP. In that spirit, I asked a young woman named Megan to share her thoughts about life, learning and plans for her future. Megan participates in YAP’s Developmental Disabilities Program in Central Pennsylvania and receives support from Employment Specialist Heather Hoover.
She has worked in her family’s place of business and would like to go out on her own. Her parents describe her as an entrepreneur and very persistent. A favorite example is that Megan read books about beading, made beads herself and then sold them in the family’s store on her own initiative.
Having a job gives her a new learning experience, Megan told me. “It will be my job and I can become independent,” she added.
“I want a job that I can call my own,” Megan told me early on in our conversation.
“What does independence mean to you?” I asked.
“I can have an apartment someday. I can be on time for my job. I can provide for myself. I worked in my family’s business for three years and I want something of my own”, Megan told me.
For now, Megan lives with her family in the Palmyra area of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Palmyra High School. Although she has no immediate plans for post-secondary education, she hasn’t ruled it out.
Megan receives support from YAP’s Employment Specialist Heather Hoover. Both women tell me that they have a great relationship. Megan is an “awesome individual,” Heather said. She added that when she was going through a hard time herself, it was Megan’s determination that inspired her not to give up.
Megan has been employed previously by an amusement park and a local flower shop. Both were seasonal temporary jobs.
Work at the amusement park was not good, Megan said. She was not treated well by her co-workers some of whom mocked and bullied her.
In contrast, the flower shop provided a good and flexible environment where she enjoyed working. She did flower arrangements and the pay was good, she recalled.
“What do you want to do most?” I asked her. “I want to work at the kitchen or do flowers,” she replied.
Megan has wanted to work in the kitchen where she went to school. She and Heather developed a resume, did several interviews and completed applications. One day they saw an ad for kitchen support at the school. With the deadline for submission approaching, it was an “exciting day” for both when they completed the process on time. Megan was interviewed and is an on-call staff for now. The school has been in regular contact to let her know that they will have work for her and not to lose hope. Meanwhile, she is still looking for a job.
“What advice can you give others that are in our various programs?” I asked. Her response was: “No matter how tough it is, you should never give up. And when things are bad you should smell the flowers and blow out the candle,” she said.
Words to describe Megan as she continues to explore the work world are: persistent, quick learner, strong work ethic and driven to reach her dreams—all attributes of an outstanding employee.