Edna Fitler – Iowa
Edna’s life had always been busy, but it was a routine she was thankful for. However, in November 2005, life threw her a curve ball and everything came to a screeching halt. She was diagnosed with cancer and she thought how could it be? She had to endure obstacle after obstacle including 6 weeks of chemo, radiation, and surgeries.
The continuing health issues and time off created strain at her current job and she was laid off. She searched and searched for work on her own, but to no avail. By this time, her health had deteriorated even more and she decided it was best to file for Social Security Disability benefits. She was grateful for the benefits, but during this time, also worked hard every day to get her strength back.
Edna began to feel stronger day by day and her desire to contribute to society really never left her mind. She researched the Ticket to Work program and how Social Security created it for citizens receiving SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits so that they can receive free assistance with finding a job. It allowed her to ‘try’ to return to work without fear of losing her benefits and health insurance immediately.
Edna found Employment Options from a list of agencies in the program. She simply applied on the website and and the screening staff informed her that she was a good match for Employment Options’ jobs. She was elated! With her health issues, she first wanted to try Work from home, but soon realized, as some job seekers do, that working outside the home would be better for her as a ‘people person.’
Edna’s work-at-home counselor simply referred her to a Community counselor within Employment Options who immediately worked one-on-one and role played the interview process and answered questions about Ticket to Work’s safety nets and incentives.
Edna began to apply for positions where her abilities would be most suited. She used what she learned from her counselor and was elated when she got a management position!
Edna is a true example of how hard work and a positive attitude can lead to personal success! Way to go Edna and keep up your hard work in the Ticket to Work program! You are a great example to all and thank you for sharing your story to help others!
Below you will find Edna’s personally written story.
“In November of 2005, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. I had 6 weeks of chemo and radiation. I then had surgery to remove my rectum and reconstruct my colon. I had to wear a temporary bag during the healing process. I let my body rest for two months and then had chemo for another 6 months. In 2007, I had a second surgery.
With the lack of muscle control and other declining health issues, I started having problems with my current job. I was laid off in 2009. After not being able to find a job on my own, I seemed to get worse and filed for Social Security Disability. During the time I was on disability, I was able to get myself in better shape and learned how to better deal with my illness.
I learned about the Ticket to Work program for Social Security beneficiaries on my own. I found a part time job and talked to someone at the Iowa Work Force center. I later got to the point to where I felt I wanted to try to go back to work full-time, but at the same time, was scared to lose my disability benefits and health insurance if I did.
I received a list of people who contracted with the Ticket to Work Program and I chose My Employment Options overall and researched them. I wanted to try working from home, but after a while, realized that did not work best for me. My dog was too noisy and my Internet and home phone service was not reliable. I am a people person too!
Lisa in the Work-at-home department at Employment Options introduced me to her fellow staff member, Sarah, who is a job Counselor in the Community division. Sarah went over the workbook sent to with me written by the company President. I had the ‘client version’ and Sarah used the ‘counselor version’ to work with me step by step virtually. It helped me to build a profile and integrate it all into my resume. She discussed the interview process in the workbook and we roll played the interview process together.
Sarah allowed me to stop and make comments or ask questions. She really helped me to understand that what I said and how I said it was very important for the interview. I had always been afraid to sell myself to an employer and never really understood what my strengths and weaknesses were.
Sarah was very patient and caring during all of our work together. I applied for the Property Management position at the apartment complex where I live. Sarah gave me the confidence and education I needed for the interview. I am 60 years old and just knew that I would not find a full time job at my age.
You cannot imagine my joy and excitement when I was called at 8:30 in the morning with a job offer. In the call, the district manager said she felt that my ‘Maturity’ was what the office and property needed. I praised God all day long. I give God the praise for healing me of cancer, (6 1/2 years cancer free) and I give God the credit for bringing me to My Employment Options and ultimately to Sarah. I started my first day at work on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Praise God!” (Edna Fitler)