by Kylee Redmond, NC State Intern
March is National Developmental Disability Awareness Month and the perfect time to tell an Arc Story! We would like to take the time to recognize Maria N. for her continuous hard work and dedication.
The Arc’s Employment Specialist, Natasha Pratt, who supports Maria, had this to say about her: “Maria is a fun young woman that loves to make friends everywhere she goes. When I first started working with her, she didn’t have a specific direction for where she wanted to work.
"I was looking for businesses with “now hiring” signs near Maria’s house when I came across a local pizza shop. I spoke with the manager, explained who I was and asked if they had any openings. Interest sparked and they asked if Maria could come in for an interview. Of course, after interviewing, management knew that she would be an asset so they offered her a position. Maria was ecstatic.”
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic Maria lost her job at Johnny’s Pizza due to the restaurant temporarily closing. While Maria was out of work she said she was “always very bored and getting upset and angry because of it.” Then Johnny’s Pizza re-opened one of their locations and a friend of Maria’s and previous co-worker started working there.
One day Maria decided to visit her friend at work and they started talking about how much Maria missed her job and working. Maria’s friend thought it would be a good idea for Maria to talk to this location’s manager about getting a position. So, that very same day, Maria met with the manager, advocated for herself, and won her job back! Maria is absolutely loving working again and meeting all her new co-workers. Maria said her favorite task to do is making the pizza boxes, but she also does so much more, like wiping down tables and cleaning the soda dispenser. Maria really enjoys getting to work again and being with old and new friends. Everyone at Johnny’s Pizza adores Maria and have nothing but good things to say about her!
When we asked Maria what her favorite thing about The Arc was she replied, “I love Natasha (Maria’s Job Coach) and when she visits with me!” We also learned that she even has a pizza named after her – the “Maria Special”.
The Arc of the Triangle is so proud of Maria and her determination to work again and can’t wait to see what all she accomplishes!