A Glimpse Into Cares

One can read a statistic or listen to a snippet of an interview; however, it is impossible to understand a concept or story until you see it in front of your face. I experienced that this week as I job shadowed a Cares Employment Support Specialist. I work in the administration at Cares, so my daily routine is filled with paperwork and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into guiding our clients to employment. However, on my job shadowing trip, I was able to humanize the faces from paperwork and see how Cares' mission is personified through the stories of our clients.

Our first stop on the trip was the Sea-Tac airport, where a client works as a janitor. We met with her and she gave us a quick update of her job. Underneath that quick update, I would later learn of some of her barriers to reach employment. Lack of transportation, physical ailments, and rising housing costs in the Seattle area were just some of the barriers she faces.

Onward, we visited two clients at Microsoft, both in which work in the cafe areas. I met a remarkable woman named Danielle (pictured), she told us some of her struggles, like having a newborn and dealing with some brain issues she's having as a result to car accidents. Afterward, she showed us around and what she does on a daily basis. I was able to walk her path toward replacing the water in the break rooms and refilling the napkins in the cafe area. She told me of her dreams to work in the kitchen and be able to prepare yummy food for people, and that she believed this job is a step in the right direction.

When I asked her how she feels Cares has changed her life, she said, "Cares has helped me put my life together and understand that my disability is a condition that can be managed." No statistic could illustrate how this organization has helped clear some of those barriers for Danielle. 

From this day of job shadowing, I come back to my position with a new respect for the work we do and a new respect for the barriers our clients overcome every day.

Kenneth Smalley