Jane Honea-Krajewski may be deaf and non-speaking, but she is not silent. She has a strong, determined personality that draws people to her.
These character traits, along with a little help from the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) and Opportunities for Ohioans (OOD) with Disabilities, landed her a job at Marion Goodwill.
It all started with a referral from Turning Point when Jane went to them seeking resources and help. Turning Point knew exactly how to guide Jane and led her to MCBDD and OOD. Since Jane is deaf and non-speaking, OOD enlisted an interpreter to help Jane with her aspirations of employment in the community. Elisabeth Clegg, sign language interpreter with Hallenross and Associates, LLC helped be Jane’s voice and ears.
“It has been a great experience being Jane’s interpreter all this time and getting to see her achieve her goals. I am glad I could be a part of the team and provide her with the communication access she needed to get where she wanted to be,” Clegg said. “I am very thankful that each place Jane came into contact with was so willing to respect her rights and provide interpreters for her,” she added.
Together, Elisabeth and Jane worked with the Employment Services team at MCBDD to do a job assessment and learn about Jane’s skills, likes, and interests. Once assessed, Jane began the process of resume writing, application submissions, and follow-up with MCBDD Job Developer, Ken Padgett. The three of them worked side by side through the process and had a great time doing it.
“The three of us made a great team. Jane had a positive attitude and was determined while Elisabeth was a godsend to make communications easy,” Pagdett said.
Jane agreed that the three of them worked very well together to find her employment.
“I had a lot of obstacles to work around and some health issues during the process, but we all powered through and in the end, I have found a job that I love,” Jane said.
Jane went on to say that Ken and Elisabeth were both extremely helpful and easy to work with. She said that she filled out close to 20 applications. The three of them went out to the businesses where Jane applied to see if they could speak to a manager about her application. When they went to Goodwill, the stars aligned and Jane was granted an interview on the spot.
Sharri Moose, Jane’s supervisor at Goodwill said of the on-the-spot-interview, “God gave us a blessing of having all of the right people together to be able to talk to Jane right then and there.”
Beth Whitaker, store manager, Goodwill, said it was her first time interviewing someone who was deaf but it went very well.
“Having an interpreter there to help Jane communicate was all we needed to get a feel for whether or not she would be a good fit. Turns out, she’s perfect! We love having her,” Whitaker said.
She added that you sometimes just know when you have found a good fit and you don’t want them to walk out the door.
“I had this feeling with Jane that she would be good – and she is amazing. She’s one of the most detailed employees that I have and works at a very fast pace.”
Moose and Whitaker agreed that Jane has been a great fit. Goodwill’s mission is to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
“Jane certainly fits our mission and appears to have the same values. She is very patient with us as we learn to communicate with her. She is even teaching us some sign language,” Moose said.
The staff at Goodwill agreed that they have really enjoyed having Jane as part of their team. They said they often communicate on a whiteboard or with pen and paper to answer questions or simply enjoy a conversation. Clegg does still come in to interpret for staff meetings and trainings to be sure Jane is getting the information she needs to continue to do her job and grow with the company.
It’s great to see employers such as Goodwill recognizing the ability of a person instead of the disability. Being open to people who may be different resulted in a great match.
It’s exciting to see Jane flourish and grow.