Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier - 4/9/09

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Getting to know you..."

A few years ago, when my role as job support coach was new, I was with Mary Anne at her brand new job. We had been given a really good opportunity at LUSH handmade cosmetics to find a place for her to work. We tried a few less than successful departments before our trial day in gift wrapping. EASY—or so I thought. Mary Anne had had a hard time packaging and working with the tape dispenser, but when I saw the other staff curling ribbon, this job seemed perfect! While teaching Mary Anne, I talked her through each step, saying, "First you tie the ribbon. Then you hold the scissors and pull down to make the strands curl. Three easy steps." Mary Anne tied the knot, grabbed the ribbon and the scissors—and nothing. Tried again— nice knot, good length of ribbon, grabbed the scissors, and nothing. By this time I was getting a bit flustered. I said, "Mary Anne, this is easy. You tied the knot no problem, the length of the ribbon is great, you have the scissors. What’s the problem?" In her characteristically matter-of-fact voice with its slight stutter, she replied a little exasperated, “I I I I’m Lef lef Left handed!!” So, once I adapted my own thinking to what she needed to learn, she got it. Mary Anne worked for over eight years at LUSH in various jobs—and I learned to watch and listen when I was teaching a job skill.

Michael MacKenzie, L’Arche Toronto



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