continued by Joyce... then as quickly as I gave my little tirade of disappointment, I quickly stated that I cannot be bogged down and dwell in the negative. I only have so much energy and although I could use it to fight the system (County board of DD) I have chosen to use it to provide opportunity. The future is what we make it. It's exciting and positive.
I then told them about our quilt store and having the table at the business expo on Wednesday. I told them about Sarah being so excited about this venture. I shared my thrill of watching her interact with members of the community.
Sharing with them what we are doing. Talking about Kate Spain, her favorite designer. Showing them Kate's fabric. I observed her introducing herself to adults she had never met. Talking with folks in the exhibitor's lounge as she ate dinner. I told them about my father making the comment that this is such a great opportunity and one that few individuals with Down syndrome ever get. And I told them that next year, I hope to have a few more employees with me who also have Down syndrome. I can't change the world, but I can make a difference for a few.
I refused to allow this final IEP meeting taint our view of the future. I so believe in the power of positive thinking and that's where I left it. As Sarah and I walked out of the room, I left my disappointment in the system that I had hoped would provide a better opportunity, behind. I expressed my appreciation for all that CEVEC has provided Sarah. We did see tremendous growth in her maturation each year that she has been in this program. And for that I am grateful. I just wish it did not have to come to an end.
As it turned out, we barely had time for lunch. So Sarah's teacher/job coach asked me if I would like to drive her directly to her job site. I was thrilled. Sarah has been so excited about her work this year. Every night at dinner, she tells us about packaging bread. It has become a ritual that John asks, "One slice or two?" Although we really did not have a clue what she was really doing.
After a quick stop in the Wendy's drive-thru, I enter the freeway. Once Sarah gets her bearings, she directs me from there. She tells me what exit to take, what turns to make and then advises me to get in the left hand turn lane. Once she sees the building she instructs me where to drop her off and then where to park my car with 100% accuracy. I was feeling pleased.
Once we walked into the first set of double doors, Sarah knew exactly what buttons to push to get us further inside. We walked down a small hallway, then entered a larger seating area. If you were asked to imagine in your mind, two sweet white haired senior ladies, they were sitting before us on the couch. Sarah walked over to them, stopping just short of stepping on their toes, and said "Hi" as she used her hand to motion hello. They both looked up, big smiles on their faces and said, "Hello darling." Sarah asked them, "How are you?" and then told them she had to go in to work, pointing to the dining room. It took several blinks, to keep my eyes dry.
Once in the dining room, Sarah put her coat where it belonged and proceeded through the "in" door into the kitchen. With extreme confidence, she walked to the very back. I followed, not really sure that I should be in the kitchen, but I definately did not want to pass up this opportunity. She went straight to the closet with the hair nets. At this point, a woman came out of the office and said hello to Sarah. I introduced myself and she then went on and on about how much they love Sarah and what a great worker she is. She then asked me to come to the office where I met the director of the Meals on Wheels program who also could not stop heaping the praise on Sarah and her dedication to her job. I was of course bursting with pride.
I quickly told them about our blog and asked if I could take a few pictures. They were more than accommodating, walking with us to the various stops before getting to Sarah's station. As I turned the video on, one of the cooks yelled out, "Sarah, you're going to be famous." She got a grin from ear to ear. And I thought to myself, "Incredible, I have just witnessed what community based employment is all about." Here I was observing Sarah interact with typical workers and seeing first hand the sense of pride and accomplishment she has in what she does. And at the same time, they were observing what she could do.
About this time, the woman who I had first encountered came back over to make sure I saw the entire cart of bread Sarah had completed the day before.