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A New Client

August 24, 2013

Everyperson with an intellectual challenge that seeks employment deserves to beaccepted for who they are - not judged by what they can or cannot do.

Thatis the philosophy we embrace at The Meadows Center for Opportunity.

Thereare many rewarding aspects to being the Program Coordinator at The Meadows, butone of the most important is getting to meet and work with a new client. Asthey begin their employment, the person is usually very excited and somewhatnervous. Occasionally they will already know someone who works here, but oftenthey will be meeting all new people for the first time. They can beapprehensive, but most are thrilled to be going to work, many for the firsttime, and they feel great pride in the fact that they will be earning apaycheck.

Ofcourse the first few days can be overwhelming. There are many things to learnabout their jobs, including various rules and safety issues, as well asprocedures that must be followed - and there are 60 new names that must bematched with the right face. But usually after 4 or 5 days they begin to settlein and start to go with the flow that makes up a typical day.

Duringthe first couple weeks the new worker gets to know the staff and they, in turn,gain insight into how that individual responds to various work situations. It’sa learning process for everyone involved. It soon becomes apparent what is themost effective and comfortable way for the person to receive instruction. Somepeople respond to verbal directions while others prefer visual demonstrations.Every effort is made to find a way to communicate with that particular personso that they understand their responsibilities and the stepsrequired to complete their assigned tasks.

Anotherimportant aspect of their employment is the experience they gain through socialinteraction. A new client has the opportunity to make many friends andacquaintances. Some will develop lifelong friendships as a result of the manyhours spent working side by side. They learn to cooperate with others and howto interact appropriately in a vocational setting. They develop tolerance, theylearn the importance of observing the rights of others and they learn healthyways to handle workplace frustrations.

Asfar as the work itself is concerned, a new client quickly achieves thesatisfaction of learning skills that will be valuable throughout their lives.Often their stamina increases and their health improves as they becomephysically active. Their intellectual acuity sharpens as they tackle multi-steptasks that require them to concentrate and think in new ways. They learn how towork as part of a group in a team effort to achieve a goal. They develop bothwork and personal habits that help them mature emotionally and take responsibilityfor their actions.

Butmost of all, they experience the joy of belonging. They feel needed and theyare respected as an equal. Their psychological and emotional wellbeing arenurtured, and they feel good about themselves. We often see people literallytransform over the first six months of employment. They develop a positiveattitude as they begin to accomplish more than they had ever imagined waspossible. They become fully engaged in life in a way that brings out theirpersonality and allows them to connect with others in a meaningful way. Theybegin the journey to reaching their full potential.

Ofcourse none of this happens by chance. Over the years some parents were toldrepeatedly that their child would never be able to hold a job. They were warnedthat their child would never learn at a pace that would allow them tocontribute. They were informed that their child would never be productive. Sofor the family it can be very emotional to see their loved one reach thisimportant milestone in their life. Many times, the parents and siblings have spentyears helping the individual get ready for this day. Sacrifices have been madeand equal amounts of patience and unconditional love have helped their childacquire the proper mindset and perspective that will allow them to take theirrightful place in the workforce.

Therefore, as their employer, we have aresponsibility to offer the appropriate supports and adaptations necessary toallow a new client to achieve their personal best - physically, intellectuallyand emotionally. We not only want to help them build vocational skills but wealso want to help them develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. We wantthem to know that we believe in them and that we will do everything possible toenable them to be successful. Our mission is to serve their needs while theyperform a marketable service for us. That means that their health and safety isour highest priority, and that they are treated with the dignity and respectthey deserve.

Findinglong term employment is a big step for any person, but the importance of thatevent is magnified when you and your family have been told it was never goingto be part of your life. When a new client walks through the door that firstmorning they are defying the odds that society has set in place. They areachieving what others said could not be done. They are living examples of thepower of the human spirit, and they demonstrate to the world what a person witha developmental disability can achieve when given the opportunity. In many waysit is one of the most important days of their lives.

It is our privilege to have them join us.