Local Delaware Community Supports Empowered Employment for Young Adult with Disabilities #NDEAM
WILMINGTON, DE. — Tucked between Pulaski Highway and Church Road stands May B. Leasure School. Technicolor bricks accent the single story, H-shaped building. Giant, decorative blocks greet you at the entrance, and just as you open the door, you can hear the laughter of children ringing through the halls. The library is located on one of the four wings. It’s a generous size, with bookshelves lining the walls, categorized by the classic Dewey Decimal system. This week is a special occasion: Book Fair.
“We do the Book Fair so we can raise money and buy books for the library,” explains Glenn, who is interning as the Library Assistant, “The kids are enjoying it!” On October 16, 2018, Glenn is in this third week of his 4-week paid internship. “My role here is to help the librarian to shelve books and basically to keep the kids in check and make sure they aren’t tearing each other apart,” he says with a smile, “I’ve always been good with kits. It just come naturally to me.”
Glenn participates in ServiceSource Delaware’s FrameWORK for Success program, a program that support young adults with disabilities as they explore job options and develop job skills. The program facilitates volunteer opportunities and internships in the Delaware community to provide students with a variety of experiences in the workforce so they can make informed decisions about their career path. Typically, these internships are unpaid, yet still valuable to the students and employers who come together to create integrated work environments.
Glenn’s paid internship was funded by generous supporters of the Small Donations, Big Impact campaign in July 2018; these supporters are primarily Delaware residents who seek to empower people with disabilities. Before his internship, Glenn was volunteering at the May B. Leasure School’s Library twice per week. “When I was volunteering I was only here for like two hours. And now with the internship, I’m here five days a week for four weeks. With volunteering you’re just helping out, he explains, “and the internship is longer hours. There’s definitely more responsibility involved. It’s more tiring. On the other hand, it’s very satisfying to work with the kids and get paid for it in the process.”
Bonnie Gaws, the School Librarian speaks highly of Glenn’s work ethic and his natural ability with children. “Glenn is an incredible asset. He does a great job, every day, no matter what the task is,” she says cheerfully. Ms. Gaws has been a longtime supporter of ServiceSource’s vision to empower people with disabilities. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and she has made the library a warm, bright, and comforting space.
The library is very active, with different classes filtering in and out, teachers requesting books and materials to their classrooms, and technology equipment issues that Ms. Gaws, who doubles as the Building Technologist, must address. Glenn helps with all these tasks and more. He’s developing a variety of skills that will help him throughout his career. “I want to work with kids in a school or library, maybe as a paraprofessional,” Glenn says. “I think you definitely need to pursue something with children,” Ms. Gaws chimes in, “You do a great job helping kids one-on-one with special needs too.” Ms. Gaws continues, “Glenn takes everything in stride when it comes to kids. He’s got the patience.”
“The kids are so sad to see him go at the end of the day!” exclaims Ms. Gaws when talking about the rapport Glenn has cultivated with the students. One of the most important impacts Glenn has on the children, Ms. Gaws has observed, is that “Glenn is a great male role model for the kids.” His kindness, diligence, and patience set a good example for the all the children who pass through the library doors.
When asked what he would want people to know about his feelings on interning at the library and working five days a week in a field he loves, Glenn says, “I want people to know, never give up your dreams. You know, back when I was a kid I had very low self-esteem, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t the most popular guy. I’ve learned that you should never say negative things to yourself. Back then, if I could’ve seen myself now, I would be super surprised at where I am today compared to where I was in elementary and middle school. I’m in a good place. I like myself.”
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month #NDEAM. ServiceSource is proud to tell Glenn’s story and others who are empowered by their work. Follow ServiceSource on Facebook @servicesource1 for more stories of inclusive and integrated workplaces.
ServiceSource is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to facilitate services and partnerships to support people with disabilities, their families, their caregivers and community members in order to build more inclusive communities. ServiceSource serves more than 25,000 people with disabilities annually.