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Sometimes finding a job helps everything else fall into place

Kiara CampUnlike most of us, who at least occasionally grumble at the thought of going to work, Kiara Camp is thrilled every time she steps foot in the Cleveland House assisted living facility in Shelby to work as a dietary aide.

At 26, she lives with major depressive disorder and intellectual disorder, and recently landed her first job. She prepares meal trays, washes dishes and cleans the facility’s dining area.

“It feels so good to go to work when you have never been able to before,” she said. “I love it.”

As the United States celebrates the 26th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26, 2016, people like Kiara Camp living with disabilities are realizing their dream of being employed.

Because of outreach, training and technical assistance by the ADA National Network to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA, people with disabilities have more opportunities for competitive employment, according to Pamela Williamson, director of the Southeast ADA Center. “And their opportunities for full participation in community life are increasing every day,” she said.

With the assistance of Danielle Earl, Supported Employment Team Lead for Monarch’s Individual Placement Services program, Kiara Camp is seeing a light at the end of a tunnel she’s been navigating throughout her life. Her mother left when she was three weeks old. By the time she started to school, it was clear she had a learning disability. Her grandmother, Ruby Haynes, raised her so that she would not end up in a foster home due to a dysfunctional family situation.

“It’s been hard to find the right help for her,” Haynes said. “People don’t take the time to find out what’s wrong with kids like her. Just to look at them, they look OK. You have to find out what’s on the inside.”

“Miss Danielle” has become a true partner, Camp said. “She supported me. She helped me make my first resume, took me to look for jobs, went with me to interviews, and took me to visit a college.”

Her new job is just the right fit, added Camp, who is also volunteering with residents at the assisted living facility in hopes of becoming a personal care aid.

“I love the residents,” she said. “I sit outside with them on my break. Elderly people just need somebody to talk to, and I like to see them smile.”

Camp’s dream is to become a hair stylist eventually, and she and Earl have already visited the Paul Mitchell school in Charlotte to learn about the cosmetology program. She’s also on the waiting list to get her first apartment for herself and her 3-year-old son, Darryl.

“One step at a time,” she and Earl often say, in unison. “One step at a time.”

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