Ruth M. – Illinois
Ruth’s personal journey, which led her to the Ticket to Work program, is one of great challenge, hard work and never giving up on herself — no matter what!
When Ruth was born in the 1950′s, they didn’t know then that she had cerebral palsy. She had other issues that she was born with and she attended various grammar schools to help her get the special education that she needed for her disability. The very day after graduating high school, Ruth began submitting applications. She was hired as a file clerk with Bankers Life and Causality Company, where she worked for over 33 1/2 years.
Sadly, Ruth’s company, like many modern companies, was downsized and she lost her job. She worked with various Chicago agencies to learn how to do things she had never done before – such as write a resume and interview.
Even after 300 applications, Ruth never gave up. She was able to attend an event hosted by the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. There, she learned about a on-line job fair hosted by Ability Links. She attended online and connected with Ray Morrison, a job counselor from Employment Options.
Ruth assigned her ‘ticket to work’ to Employment Options and worked very hard with Ray to find employment. She was able to also attend an event that Employment Options’ CEO, Paula Vieillet, held where she got to meet various managers and speak with Paula directly. After much persistence, Ruth learned a few weeks later, that Paula was hiring directly!
Ruth is a hard working, dedicated employee who truly enjoys and appreciates the opportunity to work again. She defines what a true Ticket to Work success story is all about — overcoming challenges and adversity and gaining greater independence! She loves working, learning new skills and helping her fellow co-workers — Congrats Ruth! We are very proud of you and all of your successes!
Ruth’s personally written story:
“I suffered severe brain damage at birth, and because of my disability, went to many doctors and different schools. About 5 years ago, I suffered a bad stroke, which gave me Bell’s palsy, but was healed with therapy. I went for a CT Scan which showed that I have Cerebral Palsy. I learned that I had it since birth, but we didn’t know, because back in 1951 there was no such thing as a CT Scan.
I went to 3 different grammar schools growing up because I had to attend special education. I also had to go to a special high school (Schurz High School). I graduated from Schurz and the next day I went to several companies to fill out applications. I didn’t have to go for an interview back then and I filled out an application as a file clerk at Bankers Life & Casualty Company.
I received a phone call stating that I got the job! It was June 29, 1970 when I started at Bankers. I worked there for 33 ½ years and was able to advance my skills by taking typing and computer classes that the company offered to employees. I was promoted to work in Agent Licenses as a database specialist.
In 2004, I sadly got the word that I was going to be laid off because of downsizing. My manager Luann gave me a surprise farewell party. After I left Bankers Life, they gave me a company to go to for help in getting a job, but it was unsuccessful.
I went to the mayor’s office who directed me to the Hiawatha Department of Human Services office in Chicago. I worked with a company who helped me learn how to write a resume and how to interview (which I never had to do before). I worked extremely hard with the job leads including joining the DHS job club. I did my own research on resumes, interviews, and cover letters. I applied at over 300 companies & went to 20 different interviews. I also went to different job fairs, but still no job. I knew I had the skills and abilities that a company would be very glad to have.
During my years of looking for a job, I got invited to a special Ticket to Work program meeting at the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. I learned that the Ticket to Work program is free to help those who receive SSDI and/or SSI disability benefits return to the workforce and connect with employers nationwide. I also found a website called Ability Links, who had a Virtual job fair online. I was able to connect with a vocational counselor (Ray Morrison) from Employment Options (MyEmploymentOptions), who was part of the Ticket to Work program. I applied with Employment Options and assigned my personal ‘ticket to work’ to them. Ray was my job counselor and we worked endlessly together on job leads.
At one point, I was invited to a workshop that Paula Vieillet, CEO of Employment Options, was hosting in Chicago. I was able to meet her and give her my resume. Paula and Lori Adler, who also worked at Employment Options, went to a luncheon where there were managers from various companies that I could give my resume to. A few weeks later, Paula herself sent me an email to offer me a job as her assistant. I accepted! I was so excited and I promised that I would be the best employee she could ask for.
I’ve been at Employment Options now for 1 ½ years working out of my own home, as a Database Specialist. I really enjoy working again and learning many new job tasks!
Thank you to Paula for saving my life and having confidence in me to give me a job. Thank you also to the Ticket to Work program for letting Paula create Employment Options Inc!”