It seems the longer I live, the more challenging the battle. But this week, there was a small victory. A small slash of chalk on the wall so-to-speak.
Emily is fortunate to have a nice little part time job. It is only four hours a week, but it is a job, none the less and she loves her job.
Back to high school we go. Travel back in time for a few years to a meeting and coincidentally the sun, moon, stars and the special ed directors hormones all lining up right smack in a row. I asked for a vocational evaluation for Emily which was readily agreed to. I asked for a job coach and a part time job ... after school hours ... and that too was readily agreed to. You could have knocked me over with a feather two months later when Emily started a job two afternoons a week, after school, with a job coach one-to-one and the school district was footing the bill.
Emily worked at a little Woolworth type store ... old-fashioned, full of everything from sewing notions to hammers and nails and anything in between. Her job was to stock and tidy the eight very short but very full shelves of toys. Not only was she good at it, she could tell you where just about anything in the store was located. She has a knack for that sort of thing. Then ten months after she started her job, the store, an anchor, old friend, dependable in its presence, closed. The owner could no longer support not only his few employees, but his family. Those box stores had come too close ...
George, Emily's job coach, went right next door to the grocery store and asked if they could take Emily on. He, we, couldn't imagine how Emily would handle the store closing and the loss of the job she so loved. Very fortunate indeed, the store manager felt he could fit her in and she would be an asset to the store. She has worked there since and I am told by the store manager and her current job coach that she is dependable, conscientious and well liked.
Does a heart good to hear those words. Honest.
Emily hasn't been to the high school in ages, she is currently in a post graduate program, still under the direction of our school district and her job coaching is still picked up by the school district. I am and will be, forever grateful for this part of her education. She has learned so much ... but has offered as much in return.
I was told that her job coaching would no longer be available to her because, well, she'll be done with the school district at her next birthday and there is no funding for vocational portions of day programs for young adults with special needs.
No job coaching. No job. My heart was breaking. For Emily. I thought long and hard about how I could find a way to keep the job coaching so that Emily could keep her job. I was still reeling a bit when, thankfully, an angel turned up and she told me about a program through an agency here that might just be able to help with funding for job coaching. She suggested I apply on Emily's behalf and a day or two later the application showed up in my mail box. (Thank you!)
I hemmed and hawed and scratched my head over some of the terminology. Adult services are very different than youth services and the abbreviations are tricky. They could mean, literally, anything ... and were pretty much Greek to me until I read that application three or four times when finally the questions began to make some sense to me. I completed the form, mailed it in and that was that. Until yesterday.
Out to do errands, I stopped into the post office to pick up the mail, and there, in a # 9 envelope was a letter from the agency. I looked at it and turned it over and thought about it. I could barely open it for worry and anticipation. It was nearly as bad as waiting and then receiving an acceptance letter for college. Taking a breath, I slowly slit open the top and pulled the letter out.
"Dear Emily, We are pleased to advise you that ...." And there, pulled from that envelope was a small victory that will lead to success for Emily. She will be able to keep her job. She will be able to continue to earn her small paycheck and pay her way to the movies, the dance, for a magazine. She'll continue being out in the world; socializing, helping others, being an integral and important part of our world.
I couldn't, I wouldn't ask for more.