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Finding Stable Ground with Ability Beyond

When our client Patty was first referred to Ability Beyond for employment support, hope felt out of reach.

“I was really down at that time,” Patty said.

The Bethel resident, diagnosed with a developmental disorder, had lost her job and was facing eviction. She wasn’t sure that anyone could help. Then she spoke with Teri Damo, one of our skilled Employment Specialists.

“She didn’t sugarcoat things, which I liked,” Patty said. “She let me know that Ability Beyond was there for me.”

Six months later, Patty enjoys stable housing; financial support with rent, groceries, and transportation; a wardrobe of professional clothes; a paid internship at La Quinta Inn; and—most importantly—hope for the future.

“If you’re willing to put in the work,” Patty said, “Ability Beyond is more than willing to help you get where you have to go. They’re the real deal kind of people.”

A Curriculum for Independence

Patty’s first step was AbilityWorks: a six-week classroom employment support program where she gained hard and soft skills that made her a more competitive jobseeker.

“They teach you empathy, how to dress, how to talk to people, and how to present yourself well, in terms of confidence and personal hygiene,” Patty said. “I liked the structure and the clarity.”

AbilityWorks is also an avenue for adults with disabilities looking for employment support to earn industry-specific certifications in areas such as hospitality. Patty took the opportunity to build on her long career in customer service—and when she completed the program, she found a paid internship at La Quinta Inn, with wraparound support from Ability Beyond.

More Than a Job

We know there’s more to finding a great job than the job itself.

“Everything outside of work will affect your work inherently,” said Isabel Lara-Trinidad, an Employment Specialist who supports Patty. “If you don’t have transportation, there’s no way to get to your job. If you don’t have a home or shelter, then you can’t really get a job. We step up to help our clients however they need us.”

Through Ability Beyond, for instance, Patty was able to get current with her rent and eventually access Unite CT rental assistance. She also received funding to cover SweetHART and Uber rides to and from her eight-week internship at La Quinta Inn, where she is defining herself as a “go-getter,” Isabel said.

When Patty completes her internship, she will pursue a long-term job—perhaps at La Quinta Inn or another business in the hospitality industry. One thing’s for sure: Ability Beyond will be there, offering continued support and job coaching.

“Ability is really in for the long haul,” Patty said. “They’re not the kind of organization that slaps a Band-Aid on a wound like so many companies do.”

At Your Service

Back in the 80s, Patty—a native New Yorker who settled in Connecticut—worked Sundays in a restaurant kitchen in Ridgefield. She loved the groove of it—the repetition and the order. So it’s no surprise that her favorite tasks at La Quinta Inn are in the kitchen, like keeping the water hot for tea, brewing fresh coffee, washing dishes, and cleaning/sanitizing the space.

“Every morning when I get there, she is already working,” Isabel said. “Their start time is 9 a.m. At 8:57, Patty is helping the breakfast attendant put things away. The staff are really impressed with her. She’s a team player, she has a great work ethic, and she’s always up for a challenge—even if it’s something new.”

Patty said that her self-esteem has been growing.

“I’m actually a little more outgoing these days,” Patty said. “Before I got involved with Ability Beyond, I was in a holding pattern because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to go looking for something on my own.”

Take Action

Patty is one of more than 1,750 individuals with disabilities that we serve each year with employment support services, helping them acheive their dreams and independence. Learn what you can do today to help other people like Patty.

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