In the spring of 2021, COVID-19 was still disrupting many lives. Many people had lost their jobs. Some businesses had closed.
Angie, now 31, lost her cleaning job after COVID hit, and she desperately wanted to work. At the same time, Diana Hart, who has operated On Broadway Daycare since the 1990s, was in desperate need of more employees to help care for up to a dozen children.
In the spring of 2021, Easterseals Arc’s employment services team brought them together.
“I didn’t have to look for a job. Easterseals helped me look for a job. They actually found the job,” Angie said.
Daycare founder Hart remains grateful, years later.
“Her employment here has been a lifesaver in many regards, so her contribution to what we do here is pretty important,” Hart said.
Early on, Hart appreciated Angie’s reliability and her flexibility in working hours, but she’s now settled into an 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. shift three days a week. Angie arrives as the children are getting ready for breakfast, and she helps get breakfast for them. If the weather is agreeable, she helps get the children dressed to go outdoors. Whether outdoors or indoors, Angie is right there with the kids.
Caring for up to a dozen children, some as young as infants, can occasionally be a challenge for anyone. Angie noted that when children start screaming, it can be hard for her to take. She’s such a natural at child care that her solution when noise irritates her is to come in closer.
“I just come along and sing songs with them or play games with them,” she said.
When Angie began work at the day care, staff from Easterseals Arc helped her learn the work. Employment specialist Kierra Curry still checks in with her periodically.
Curry says Angie’s deep concern for the children she works with is key to her success at the job.
“She likes to help people,” Curry said.
“She just takes the time to know them,” Hart said. “She does a really nice job of getting down on their level. She gets to cuddle the babies. She gets to establish a relationship. All the older ones – the 3-year-olds – were babies when Angie started. She has nice, meaningful conversations with them. When they talk to her about the things that are really important to them, she really listens.”
On her own time, Angie keeps at it, researching ideas to make the little children’s days better.
“She brings ideas to me, and it’s really helpful,” Hart said. “She shows that she can become even better at what she’s doing.”
She offered this example of Angie’s initiative: “She likes to take pictures and get pictures printed. … She brought them in, and we made a collage with the pictures of the children and the adults here.”
For Angie, the rewards the children themselves provide never wear out.
“I enjoy working with kids,” she said. “It makes me happy every day. I come here and see smiles on their faces, and it brings me to a better day.”