Supported Employment Success Story from Red Wing, MN

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What does it take to juggle school, a job and volunteer work? Determination- and that is exactly what Karla, a 21 year-old Opportunity Services client in Red Wing, MN has! Karla recently started working part-time at Target as a flow team member while finishing up her final year in the STEP Program. Karla will graduate this spring and is already ahead of the game, maintaining community employment well before graduation.

Karla relocated to Red Wing from Wisconsin when she was in Elementary School. Following her graduation from High School, she enrolled in STEP, a transition program for students with disabilities. STEP helps students like Karla build life skills for the real world, including banking, cooking, shopping, utilizing public transportation and more! Two of Karla’s teachers Kelsey Mills and Abby Wiley are very impressed with Karla’s positive attitude and determination. “We have seen amazing progress over the last two years with Karla,” said Kelsey. “She is becoming her own self-advocate out in the community.” Karla is willing to speak up for herself and enjoys using public transportation to get around Red Wing, something that was not possible before she built her comfort level with STEP.

Before her high School graduation, Karla was assigned to Jim Langevin, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Jim has also been impressed with Karla’s growth over the past few years and is excited for her future. “It has been fun to watch Karla’s employment journey. She has overcome many hurdles to be as successful as she is now, thanks to the STEP Program and Opportunity Services.”

The team at Target in Red Wing is also impressed with Karla. Molly Raymond, Executive Team Lead at Target wishes all of her team members were like Karla. “Karla is wonderful! She consistently goes above and beyond to get the job done. She is truly a go-getter, asking all the right questions and improving on the job every day.”

What does Karla think about all this praise? She is extremely grateful to everyone who played a part in her transformation over the years. She truly loves her job at Target and repeatedly thanks Zach Wegner, Opportunity Services Employment Specialist, for everything he has done for her. “Zach is my superhero- I would not have maintained this job without him,” said Karla. “I love being at Target because I’m not treated any differently. Just because I’m a ‘special’ person doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Karla is an amazing individual that has overcome many stereotypes to maintain her current employment success. In her free time, Karla volunteers at the Humane Society because she loves dogs and cats and she also loves to bake almost anything, especially banana bread.