It began in January of 2020 with a trusted and respected friend who knew I was having trouble finding a job. I began working at a local movie theatre, but the hours and the pay were not enough to support my family. My friend had told me she knew about a company named Values Into Action. The company worked with persons with disabilities across the state of Pennsylvania. My friend believed that due to my lived experience, it could be a perfect fit for me. Initially, the Supports Broker job made me scratch my head – What was it? And how could I fit into the job?
To begin with I had to complete the computer modules on ODP’s website. Then attend the certification class in person and pass a final test. This would certify me as a Support Broker in the state of Pennsylvania.
I began working through the modules on ODP’s site. It took me two weeks to finish the modules. When I finished with the modules, I was still unsure of the impact I could make in this position.
In March of 2020, I met with other Support Broker hopefuls to put lessons into practice, in the classroom.
Two weeks later the movie theater where I’d worked closed for two weeks to mitigate the spread of COVID. At home laid off and anxiety ridden, my family and I like so many others began our COVID lockdown. March began April, April became May. I avoided taking the final test for certification. I did not have enough faith in the things I had learned, and I was afraid I would fail. Finally, my friend who had referred me to this career path said we need you to take the test. I took the test in June 2020 and passed.
Before my job at Values Into Action, I had been unemployed for seven months. There’s nothing as grueling as job searching. I spent as much time job searching as I would have spent on a daily basis at a job. I had interviews, but no job offers. I believed the only thing the people who interviewed me saw was, Hot Wheels (my walker) which I used as a mobility aid. I applied to work as a Supports Broker with Values Into Action. Due to past interview fails and low self-confidence, I was unsure if my career path was one I would be able to stay on.
I began working for Values Into Action in July 2020. I have never had a job like this. I only wish I would have found it 18 years ago. I have never felt so seen, so heard, and respected as I have working at Values Into Action.
What you can learn from my journey is this – Always listen to friends you respect and trust. Even if you are scared, take the step and the steps will appear.