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It’s Friday

It’s Friday. The front door closes and my son comes in the house. First, hugs are exchanged as I am always filled with joy whenever I see him. He walks down the hall and carefully puts his lunchbox down on the kitchen counter. Next, off comes the jacket and he walks to the mudroom to hang it up on a peg. He returns to the kitchen. I am watching his every move but it isn’t necessary, as the unfolding scenario doesn’t change. It is the same every Friday. He opens his lunch pail and takes out the ice block which has kept his Lean Cuisine cold until lunchtime. He carefully opens the freezer drawer and puts the ice away. Then he walks back to his lunch pail. He turns around to see if I’m watching. I am. He reaches into the pail and brings out a white envelope, folded in half. He hands it to me with a smile that lights up his face, the kitchen and my heart. “Open it Mom. Go ahead” he tells me, still smiling. As I begin to open the envelope, I can see that it has been opened previously. I know he has already looked inside. I remove the paper from the envelope and unfold it. Taking just a quick second to read, I look up into his happy face and say “WOW! Look at this paycheck. This is awesome! You worked hard to earn this money. Adam, you’re the Best!”

Adam works at Service Source, formerly OCI. Service Source offers a variety of employment opportunities. Adam works in what is termed “Center Based Employment”. By definition, some might call this a sheltered workshop. Regardless. Adam is happy at his job site; he is a good, steady worker and takes pride in his work. He enjoys going to work each day. Do you? In fact, he is disappointed on days when the Employment Center is closed. Adam has friends at work. He likes and enjoys the staff. The camaraderie and social opportunities are invaluable to him as an individual.

Those of us who are parents, friends and relatives of persons with intellectual disabilities must gather together; there is strength in numbers. Our children with DD/ID need options and choices. We need to ensure that Delaware has a full continuum of employment services, not only for our adult children today but also for those children and teenagers who will quickly become adults.

By the way, that paycheck? Neither Adam nor I ever mention the dollar amount. The check could have been for $2, $20 or $200. Quite simply, the amount of money in dollars and cents is not what generates his happiness. For my son, that piece of paper symbolizes his worth as an individual, as a worker, and as an employee. One cannot place a value on Adam’s self-esteem, his dignity, contentment, and certainly not on his captivating, shining smile. Frankly, I just melt every time I see it and am grateful for what we have.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.familiesspeakingup.com/2012/10/11/its-friday/

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