“I never gave up my passion or my abilities regardless of what I was told by others!”

For 24 years I was employed in childcare, where I was known as trustworthy and loving by parents and kids alike. Sadly, I was forced to leave this job due to Vermont’s credentialing of child-care staff. With no certification, I was unable to keep my job as a primary care provider, a huge loss to my employer and to me. Determined to save my career, I explored accreditation classes, but the faculty assumed my disability would prevent my successful completion. Again, I was distraught and I felt disrespected. I lost a career where I excelled!

I moved to a janitorial job, but never stopped believing in myself and my love of children. I babysat on the side and could often be seen around town with my small charges. What came next is due to my resolve to hold onto my dreams. Hearing of my child-care skills, Middlebury’s Parks and Recreation Department hired me for their ‘Tot Time’ programme. I quickly advanced to the summer camp programme, where I was re-united with a child I had cared for years earlier but who was now to be my co-worker! I advanced in my position, and was key in helping create the Special Olympics Young Athletes programme, in which I am a mentor.

My dedication to childcare rings clear in the words of my director: “Mary is very reliable, she never says no, is always early for work, and often stays late. Dustin and Mary are two peas in a pod, always laughing and joking with each other. Everyone loves Mary and we are never going to let her go!” Although forced to leave a job in which I expected to retire, I re-shaped my career with a team where I am respected and loved. I never gave up my passion or my abilities regardless of what I was told by others!

Learn more about how Vermont’s Supported Employment Programme sustains long-term inclusion in the open labour market for persons with developmental disabilities.