The following post was written by Employment Services client, Leigh Lightholder, with some editing for clarity and brevity.
Because I was without oxygen for eight minutes when I was born, I have Cerebral Palsy (CP). As I got older, the doctors told my parents that I would be bedridden for the rest of my life. At that time, people like me lived in institutions. But God had a different plan.
I’ve always wanted to be independent and have worked hard to achieve that goal. I tried college, but it was hard so I got my own apartment and taught myself how to use a computer. No one would give me real work, just busywork though.
When my family moved to Florida, I contacted Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) because I wanted to work; VR introduced me to Brevard Achievement Center (BAC). BAC talked to me and listened. Wow, this was a first! When Eric Smith from Indian River Networks (IRN) called BAC to find someone with computer skills, BAC called me. My mom agreed to drive me to and from IRN, so I took the On the Job Training (OJT) opportunity.
I’m not only grateful to have a work experience where I can learn more computer skills, but am thankful to be working with so many caring people. They include me in everyday activities, take the time to understand my speech and help me with my needs. As I took online classes to become certified, my coworkers also trained me. I am so glad that I am finally working where people are social and eager to learn and grow within the business world. My brother said, “Leigh, everyone at your age (50) is planning for retirement and you are beginning to work. I am proud of you for wanting to be a part of society.”
No matter how long it takes to accomplish your goal, patience is the name of the game.
Editor’s Note: IRN recently awarded Leigh with two certificates for her accomplishments during her OJT position. Watch this video to see the presentation by Eric Smith.