Jessica’s story – a journey toward increased independence

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By Yvonne “Kelly” Lyles, Gompers Employment Services Supervisor

Jessica’s life was significantly altered in her early teens when a car accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Now a young adult, Jessica felt socially isolated when her living situation changed and her days were primarily spent at her group transition home. A friend working at the nonprofit Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL) referred Jessica to Gompers Employment Services (ES) program.

Jessica began her journey toward increased independence at our Glendale ES campus on April 10, 2015.

When she arrived, she seemed emotionally broken and devastated regarding the rapid change of events taking place in her life. One of those changes was working for the first time. Her first day was one of many tears but underneath, I could clearly see her spirit of determination and perseverance.

I reassured Jessica that Gompers is a good place where she would find the staff very caring, understanding and supportive. I recognized her leadership qualities and explained to her that at Gompers, she would have the opportunity to prove them to herself.

We discussed how she felt a loss of control over the things in her life. I shared that at Gompers she would have control. It would be up to her to succeed. I went on to explain the importance just staying in the moment and focusing on the task at hand. I went on to encourage her to try everything given to her because I knew it was critical for her to not quit on herself.

Jessica will tell you her objective is to be independent and to hold a job in the community. She now views her experience at Gompers as a stepping stone to help her get what she wants out of life. Jessica works hard, stays focused, respects her staff and works well with others. She has made a few friends and now even smiles frequently.

When asked what matters most to her about being in the ES Transition to Employment (TTE) program, Jessica readily shares, “I have the opportunity to learn job skills like working with others, being on time and how to give my best efforts.” She went on to share, “I like the staff here. They are nice and understand me.”

Believing in the abilities of others is an important part of what we do at Gompers. My role as an ES supervisor is to provide the tools, skills and encouragement necessary to allow each of my participants to be successful. In the past two months, Jessica has proven she has the drive and desire to succeed. Her efforts resulted in her earnings growing significantly from her first month of employment to her second. In addition, Jessica now has a meaningful place to come, work and enjoy the friendship and support of others.