Carolyn started employment at the Pentagon as a Custodian assigned to clean offices and rest rooms.  The events of 9/11 were traumatizing to her.  Thankfully, she wasn’t at the location at the time of the attack; however, facing the reality that people she knew and worked with were hurt or lost, she couldn’t return.

After eleven years it was time for Carolyn to start working again. Working independently was too much for her at the time. She was referred to MVLE and assigned to the group supported employment program in 2012 and worked through 2015. Suddenly, she stopped attending.  Carolyn was devastated by the loss of a Brother and her Father in the same year.  She became withdrawn and sad.  She didn’t want to leave her Mom and stayed at home.

Carolyn’s Mom and cousin wanted her to try getting back out the house and try working again.  She was resistant to the idea but decided to go along with it.  We met Carolyn again in mid-August of 2018 and she was placed with MVLE’s Individual Supported Employment program.

We discussed the interest Carolyn had and her concerns.  She presented herself as very shy, soft spoken and trembled when spoken to. Carolyn expressed that she didn’t want to be in crowds or where it is noisy.  She likes retail work with jewelry, clothing and collectible dolls. The Employment Specialist believed that the Customized Employment approach would be beneficial for her. Carolyn was a case study and the first person to go through the Customized Employment program.

MVLE staff took time to get to know Carolyn and spent time with those that are significant in her life. Staff discovered her love of jewelry and she indicated that she would like to make it.  The Employment Specialist instructed her in making a bracelet and necklace for her Mom.  This was a great bonding and learning activity.

As the discovery process continued with Community exploration, evaluating social capital, and informational interviews of employers, Carolyn began to open up more and communicate.  Exposing her to work environments and providing her support through her Anxiety has assisted her to be where she is now.  The same individual who was scared to be in public and in crowds, is now an Usher at Cinemark 14 Screen theater in Fairfax.  The employer is a perfect match for her and has been an amazing natural support and has been able to modify her duties for her to have successes at the job.

For Carolyn, her process to build her self-esteem, manage anxiety and confidence, took a 5-month process. She’s had 3 customers submit positive feedback for her friendliness at her station.  Carolyn is more open and smiles to strangers and has a great relationship with her managers and coworkers.