Meet Cara

Many people with disabilities who want to work have unique barriers to reaching their employment goals. That's the case for Cara, a graduate of GESMN's retail skills training program. Cara has an autism spectrum disorder and came to GESMN seeking coaching and training to reach her goal to work full-time.

Cara's training took place in the bakery of a grocery store. She worked with Cindy Brenna, a GESMN support consultant in St. Cloud, to get job coaching and supported employment. Through training, Cara was able to expand her skill set. She learned how to clean, take cake orders over the phone and multi-task. She impressed Cindy and the bakery manager with her dedication and ambition to learn new tasks.

"I have seen such growth in Cara," Cindy says. "She always has a positive attitude and works as an important team member."

Cara’s positive attitude and hard work have paid off. While in training, the bakery manager encouraged her to apply for an open position; she applied and got the job.

With the new job came new responsibilities and learning opportunities for Cara. She assists at the front of house — she learned how to use an iPad to sign guests up for rewards programs, and she fills in for co-workers when they go on vacation.

Because of her eagerness to work more, Cara recently accepted shifts that had her work eight days in a row. When Cindy asked Cara if she was ready for that, Cara said, "I'll just take it one day at a time."

Cara working in the bakery

Today, Cara continues to work hard to learn new skills.

"I would like to learn to frost cakes so if a guest asks for a cake to be frosted, I will be able to do it neatly. I also would like to learn to bake the bread so if a certain type of bread is out, I can bake some for the guest."

For Cara, her job provides so much more than a paycheck — it gives her pride and purpose. She enjoys being a part of the team and continues to grow in pursuit of her goal.

Cindy is confident Cara will soon be able to work full-time.

"She understands that working hard is the way to achieve her goal," Cindy says. "I am confident that she will one day reach it."