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Written with Anastasia's Mom, Marilyn.
Anastasia was born in Tula, Russia, adopted by her family and moved to North Carolina when she was 4 years old. Her parents learned that same year that she had a developmental disability and wasn’t expected to successfully complete a typical education. Anastasia and her parents chose to believe otherwise.
With her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and support from school, she studied every day and surpassed the expectations of earlier years. She grew up with a love of animals and the outdoors. Camping, kayaking and archery became her favorite hobbies. She won character awards for perseverance and compassion for others.
This is her senior year at Heritage High School. The Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program requires 900 hours of combined volunteer and paid work hours as well as attending full time classes to graduate. Anastasia has volunteered with the Girl Scouts, her church, animal shelters, book fairs, the Red Cross blood drive. Anastasia favorite place to volunteer was the Autistic Unit (AU) classroom at her school. Finding her passion, she began to make a difference with these students. Anastasia volunteered at Camp SonRise, as a caregiver. She went on to serve special education students with an internship assisting in the AU class. Recently she participated in the Autism Awareness Walk in Raleigh North Carolina. She will also attend the Special Olympics as part of her internship to help with the AU class this fall. She hopes to have a career in care giving for individuals with disabilities.
With graduation just around the corner and paid work hours needed to fulfill her graduation requirements, Anastasia joined The Arc of the Triangle’s Supported Employment program. The Supported Employment team got to work! Her job coach Kathy Mayer, took her to a job fair, emailed job listings to Anastasia, and helped with online applications. Coaching is intensive- Kathy supported Anastasia in everything from what to wear to an interview to coaching her in the car before an interview. Anastasia’s mom, Marilyn had this to say: “This was above and beyond our expectations and Anastasia got her first job at Food Lion! We were amazed at the connections and support given by The Arc to help her secure her first job in just 3 – 4 weeks of working with us. Kathy was there for her first day on the job to ensure transition and training for new employment and Kathy still checks in on her 90 days later to see how she’s doing. Thanks to The Arc, Anastasia has already completed almost a third of the required paid hours.”
Anastasia says this about The Arc of the Triangle, “I feel good about my job and I am going to fight for what I want. They really know what they are doing, and they don’t give up on you. They fight ‘til the end to help you reach your goals. When I found out I got my job, I screamed and I felt magical. I called Kathy and I told her thank you, I would have never gotten a job without you!”
Anastasia hopes one day to have a full time care giving position working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With her high school degree on the horizon, experience and paid employment on her resume and the advocacy of the team at The Arc of the Triangle, there is no doubt that Anastasia will fulfill her dream. Here at The Arc, we know Anastasia will continue to make a difference in the lives of many for years to come.