On the job and on her way.
When Mary was born at 25 weeks and one-and-a-half pounds, doctors predicted her chances of survival were small.
If she survived, they said she would live in a wheelchair and never walk, talk or run. She had a shunt placed into her brain and was in the neonatal intensive care unit for three months.
“I was born small and had to be connected to a lot of machines, but that’s not the end of my story,” Mary said. “It was just the beginning.” As she grew, Mary showed remarkable progress. Doctors called her a “miracle baby.” Mary was taken home from the hospital by her foster parents who later adopted her. Mary’s mother, Judy, said Mary had to be connected to monitors and machines 24/7.
“Everyone was afraid to pick her up because there were so many wires, but we believed in her,” Judy said. Mary’s parents loved and supported Mary so she would have the best chance at a full life. Judy said as Mary grew, she continued to exceed doctors’ expectations.
“Even when doctors told us Mary had disabilities, I would tell them, ‘But look at how much she can do!’” Judy said. Thanks to her parents’ faith in her, Mary’s good attitude, and help from medical professionals, Mary thrived. But Judy said she felt uncertain about Mary’s future.
Growing up, Mary liked to pretend to work as a secretary or nurse, but Judy admits she wondered whether Mary would be able to have a job someday. According to recent employment research, only 16 percent of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have paid, integrated employment. Finding employment opportunities can be challenging for people with disabilities if they do not have support.
But with support from generous donors like you, AbleLight works to equip people we support with career coaching, skills assessments and employment planning so they can be successful in the workforce. Your support helped Mary, and she has achieved her dream! Today, Mary is working at AbleLight as a stewardship representative, where she supports the philanthropy team, organizes fundraising materials, helps with donor communications and addresses donor cards.
“My goal was to get a real job. And I got it. I never thought I’d be here, but I am, and I’m proud to be here,” Mary said. Thanks to gifts from generous donors like you, Mary received supported employment services from AbleLight to help build her professional skills. “If someone had told me when she was a baby how far Mary would come, I would not have believed them,” Judy said. “Her working is like another miracle. I believe God is letting me know Mary can do anything she wants to do.”