Employees who have overcome challenges feted by agency
Monarch honored nearly 100 of its clients last Thursday for excelling in the workforce despite their physical or mental disabilities.
Monarch, which provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges, feted employees from Forsyth, Stokes, Davie and Guilford counties at its Highland Avenue headquarters. Longevity honors were also presented to clients who have held their jobs for five years.
“We’re honoring the jobs that you have and that you’ve retained and that you’ve fought for,” Dr. William “Bill” Donohue, the former executive director of The Special Children’s School, said in his keynote address. “…You’ve given us a chance to be elated with your accomplishments. We celebrate your tenacity.”
Monarch has helped nearly 450 people with disabilities find employment over the last five years, Donohue said.
“I would like to celebrate not only you but the whole community that you are a part of,” Donohue told the honorees. “…Whether we’re sitting or standing or rocking or rolling, we all see things differently and experience things differently from where we sit, but I think we all see and feel that Winston-Salem is an amazing place and I think it’s largely because of people like you.”
Westfield resident Anthony Frazier was the honoree with the distinction of having 10 years on the job under his belt. Frazier does janitorial work at a Hardee’s restaurant in his hometown.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “People treat me nice down there.”
Frazier, the youngest of four children, said he was honored to be recognized.
“It feels good,” he declared. “I feel very proud.”
Monarch grad Jonathan Cherry offered inspirational remarks for attendees during the celebration.
“It doesn’t matter where you are (with respect to seniority), you achieved a great stride,” he told honorees. “I’m proud of you.”
Cherry, who was once homeless, is now working full-time at Goodwill Industries. He credits Monarch with helping him reach that milestone in his life.
“I’ve tried, I’ve failed and I’ve conquered,” he declared. “It feels good to achieve something.”
When it comes to finding jobs for people with disabilities, overcoming stereotypes is often one of the biggest hurdles Monarch staffers face, said Program Director Ann Webster, who has served the agency for the last 12 years.
“People assume that a person with a disability is not a hard worker and that is not true,” she stated. “People with disabilities work just as hard as anybody.”
Webster said the annual Recognition program is an event that Monarch employees and clients look forward to each year.
“I think anybody would go out and celebrate if they got a new job, if they got their first job, and that’s what we’re doing,” commented the UNC Chapel Hill alumna. “It’s very hard to get a job, and certainly we want to recognize them.”
Monarch provides a variety of services to its clients free of charge, from job training to interview preparation, and even helps clients to dress for success if needed, Webster said. The agency receives its clients through referrals from Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
Amy Yates of Mocksville has five years on the job at the Autumn Care nursing home. Yates, who is a member of the kitchen crew, lists “the people, the atmosphere and the work” among her favorite aspects of her occupation. The 43 year-old says she plans to stay on at Autumn Care as long as she can.
“They haven’t kicked me out,” quipped the Davie County High School alumna.
City native Brooke Williams was recognized for landing a job at Clemmons Village I retirement community in April. Although she has held several different occupations, the 24 year-old said her current post is her favorite.
“I do a variety of different things. I help the activity director and put out ice and snacks (for residents),” she explained. “I like the elderly.”
Brooke’s mother, Lisa Williams, said Monarch has helped her daughter gain the confidence she needed to be successful in her employment search.
“She’s so shy. She tried to get out on her own to look for jobs, but she just needed someone with her to get her on the right track,” said Lisa Williams, a Wells Fargo employee. “She’s real happy because she’s been wanting a job and she’s finally making her own money now.”
For more information about Monarch, visit www.monarchnc.org or call 800-230-7525.