In what is becoming one of the major highlights of the calendar year, the LIFE Employer Appreciation night was held on March 10 at the Doubletree Inn in Hyannis.
This night is so enjoyable for a lot of reasons, but primarily it gives the community a chance to honor the businesses of Cape Cod that employ the amazing residents at LIFE.
Helping You Helps Us—that was the theme of the night, and the maxim that the employment program lives by. They are constantly working to foster these relationships, and so it goes without saying that these companies deserve a chance in the spotlight.
Jo Ann Simons kicked things off, speaking from the board as both a parent and an advocate who has dedicated her life to helping those with disabilities. She lauded these companies for their opening and diverse working environments. By hiring a person with a learning difference you are helping them and see their deep, true potential, and she spoke with passion and reverence.
Resident speaker Amanda Church followed that up, and spoke with an assuredness that in large part stems from being an employed, hardworking individual. She discussed the feeling you have when you hold a job—the ability to pay your rent, bills and other personal items.
The employment team at LIFE has challenged her, and as a result she has had the privilege to work for the Mashpee Chamber, a local book store and DermaConcepts. They have pushed her to try new things, and have vowed to continue to help her add layers to her already impressive work ethic. She spoke with a lot of confidence, and her words hit home with many members of the audience.
A huge part of the night is the speech from one of the employers themselves. It’s so great to hear their experiences, and for them to have the chance to share what it is they enjoy the most about working with LIFE residents.
Guest speaker Pam Parker from Harvest of Barnstable delivered a heartwarming speech, discussing the 14-year relationship that Harvest has had with LIFE. Many LIFE residents are responsible for creating over 125,000 paper-white baskets; in addition, over 450,000 bulbs have been hand-placed in these special gifts, with the LIFE message sent out with each one of them.
She relayed a few anecdotes that gave everyone a true sense of the residents’ involvement. She spoke highly of Jake Rothenberg, and the role he plays in regard to the weather: He’s always there to make sure enough dry rocks are inside when the weather looks ominous. Annabel Gorman is a pro when it comes to placing the bulbs—ever so carefully—in the baskets, as not to damage them.
Elisabeth Bowman is always checking in to let her know if they are running low on ribbons; she keeps everyone on their toes and in order.
The bond and special relationship that Pam has formed with these residents has only helped her business grow over the years. She encouraged all the employment establishments in attendance to be a voice for LIFE. It is so important for the residents to be integrated within the Cape Cod area, and for so many businesses to work with and better their lives is truly remarkable.
And seeing the employers embrace the residents in front of the entire group was unforgettable. A few residents played it cool, shaking hands with their bosses while taking a photo. Others, well, containing their excitement wasn’t all that necessary. You could hear one resident yell in very appropriate excitement, while another literally skipped down the aisle to see her boss.
A few newcomers to the appreciation night spoke very highly of the residents, and thanked the employment counselors at LIFE for their dedicated work.
Executive Director Diane Enochs closed the night out, thanking all the businesses for their cooperative and generous work, which benefits everyone with whom they come into contact.