Finding Employment…and Much More – Monica’s Story

New to Portland, Monica* had no friends, no money, and no job. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was struggling with depression and knew she needed support, but didn’t know where to find it. Her search brought her to LifeWorks NW’s Supported Employment Program.

When she began meeting with her Supported Employment Specialist, he could see how much she struggled with her depression but, at the same time, how much she wanted to succeed. She often cried during her sessions, recounting the struggles that brought her to LifeWorks NW. She was on time to every appointment, and never asked to end a session early. It was when she started meeting with potential employers that Monica truly began to blossom. She began smiling more, and had a positive perspective on her options. She began making friends and participating in fun activities.

Everything came together for Monica when she was hired for an on-call position as a barista. After working her first shift, she was offered a full-time position. Monica was thrilled that her potential was recognized by her employer. Her work with Supported Employment transitioned from finding a job to keeping it, learning how to navigate difficulties in her workplace.

Three months later, Monica is still employed full-time as a barista, and is enjoying the perks that come with employment – having money, a purpose, staying active, meeting new people every day, and being stable enough to make plans beyond tomorrow. She is saving her money to buy a car, and is thinking about finishing up her bachelor’s degree.

Ask Monica about her success, and she’ll tell you “when I started working, and my boss told me all the things she wanted me to do, I thought ‘there’s just no way’. But now that I’ve been doing it for a while I think ‘I can do this…and I can do more.’”

*not her real name

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