‘Anyone With a Disability Has As Much Right to Employment As Anyone Else’
“Anyone with a disability has as much right to employment as anyone else,” Liberty ARC’s Employment Support Specialist Caroline Snell said. “I think it’s important to recognize people with disabilities who work because they’re accomplishing their goals. We need to recognize them for going to work and working side-by-side with you and me – they’re getting it done.”
Caroline has been an employment support specialist for Liberty ARC’s Career and Employment Network (CEN) for 25 years. During her time at CEN, Caroline has helped many individuals find jobs they like and maintain them for many years.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and my main concern is making sure they’re comfortable in their positions,” she said. “Liking their job and staying at their job are my two goals. A lot of people will work in the same job for more than 10 years, and one day they might decide they don’t like it anymore. So, we start the process all over again and find them a new career.”
Over the years, Caroline has helped many individuals realize their career goals and aspirations. There are a few individuals that come to mind in particular.
“I’ve continued to support a woman who’s worked in kitchens doing cleaning for the past 20 years,” she said. “And now she’s going to school for culinary arts at the age of 50. I’ve worked with a young man who had a job cleaning, and now he works in sales – he wanted a change and when the opportunity popped up, he took it. He’s doing quite well and has made some commission off his sales. It’s all about what makes them happy – if they’re working a job that doesn’t make them happy, then I try to figure out what they’d like and find them a job that does make them happy.”
Caroline believes meaningful employment not only gives individuals independence, but immensely improves their self-esteem.
“I’ve seen a lot of individuals who won’t even look me in the eye or talk to me take positions in the community,” she said. “And after six months or a year they’re looking me in the eye and engaging me – it’s a great thing to see. Working really helps with self-confidence.”
Caroline said anyone who has an urge to help and can listen should apply for a position at CEN.
“You have to want to support someone in their search for a career,” she said. “And you have to be good at listening – don’t put words in their mouth. Advise them and support them, but let them do what they want to do.”