Allison Shelley has never let disabilities and challenges deter her from going for her dream. Feeling defeated with her former employer’s expectations and the struggles she faced with having to cope with her learning disability and her unique way of needing to learn, Allison found an amazing support system at MERS Goodwill. After struggling at her job within a major healthcare system, the Missouri Department of Vocational Rehabilitation referred Allison to the Employment Services program at MERS Goodwill.
“I remember the day I met Allison,” said her caseworker Katie Hennessey. “I saw someone who obviously felt defeated in her current position, but that under the frustration and low self-esteem was someone with unique abilities and a bubbly personality just waiting to surface.”
Initially Allison and Katie worked together on job retention skills and building her self-esteem. After meetings with Katie and her job Supervisor, Allison felt it was time to search for new opportunities, and continue on her career path of becoming an Administrative Assistant. By focusing on her skills rather than her limitations, Allison’s confidence began to rise.
“I felt defeated and was getting frustrated,” said Allison. “Katie helped me realize that there were other opportunities out there that would make me actually enjoy going to work every day instead of dreading it. Without her support I would not have had the courage to explore the other opportunities that were out there.”
While still working at her job at the healthcare provider, Allison and Katie would meet weekly to discuss different career options and apply for a variety of jobs that fit Allison’s strengths. During these meetings, the two would also work on Allison’s resume and participate in mock interviews to help Allison get more comfortable and prepared for the hiring process.
Katie also worked with Allison on identifying her strengths and weaknesses and how to apply those assets in the work force. The duo focused on full-time administrative/office positions with benefits that wouldn’t require a large amount of time spent on the phone. Communication had always been somewhat difficult for Allison, and they wanted to focus on positions that matched her strengths.
“Allison and I worked really hard on increasing her confidence and to show employers what she could offer them,” said Hennessey. “Allison’s enthusiasm and contagious laughter really began to show after exploring other job opportunities and she began to feel more comfortable with herself and in her abilities.”
After months of working together, Allison was offered a pharmacy cashier position at LDI. However, Allison and Katie were hesitant about the position since math was a subject Allison had always had struggled with. After approaching LDI Management about their concerns, Allison and Katie were both shocked when their response was to create a brand new position for Allison. The office admin position that was created for Allison highlighted her strengths and worked around her weaknesses.
“I knew right then that LDI would be the perfect fit for me,” said Allison. “LDI was willing to look outside the box and focus on my strengths. The company has made me feel comfortable with my disability and has never made me feel any less of an asset because of it and my weaknesses.”
Working as an Office Admin for the past year at LDI, Allison is responsible for taking care of the day-to-day organization of the office and assisting with other tasks throughout the day. Her new role has changed her life and she credits Goodwill with helping her achieve her goals.
“For the first time in a long time I am happy with my job and enjoy going to work each day,” said Allison. “Goodwill gave me a chance to excel in the workplace and taught me valuable skills that helped me achieve my goals. I will always be thankful for the assistance and support I received from Goodwill and Katie in particular.”
It was not just Allison’s life that has been enhanced by Allison’s journey, but Katie’s as well.
“Allison inspires me quite frequently to never give up on my clients and that no matter how many employers are out there that reject, there will always be those that are willing to be creative and think outside the typical HR procedure,” said Katie. “I think both Allison and LDI really found a perfect match in each other and I am inspired to find that for all my clients.”