In 2005, Laura had been on social security disability for quite a while and yearned for an opportunity to, in her words, “do more and see what I could contribute.” With two cousins already working for Peckham’s Manufacturing division sewing military garments, she saw an opportunity to be hired as a sewer. Laura felt encouraged by her relatives and wanted to give it a chance. Initially, she started working part-time and as her sense of accomplishment and confidence grew, she moved to full-time employment.
Four years later, Laura decided to take yet another chance and make a move from Peckham’s Manufacturing line of business to the Call Center Solutions division. She was ready for a new challenge and decided to pursue a Customer Service Representative (CSR) position answering phones, pushing herself to learn a completely new skill. One of Laura’s life philosophies is to take risks and welcome change, and making the jump from manufacturing to the call center proved successful. Not long after starting, she was asked to join the Help Desk team, a leadership role which supports other CSRs with their calls. Laura thrives in this position and is motivated by her genuine desire to help others and the feeling of accomplishment she derives from seeing them succeed.
Laura continued to build skills and grow confidence, and when the next opportunity to step up presented itself, she was ready. She is currently the Vice President of the Peckham Self Advocacy Team (PSAT) at the Riverside location. PSAT members advocate and educate at the local, state, and federal level on policies that affect persons with disabilities. Members of the team engage in community service efforts and share and promote community resources available to people with disabilities. Laura has been involved in two main PSAT projects – the installation of accessible picnic tables and grills at Potter Park Zoo and a wheelchair swing at Beacon Park. She also leads fundraising efforts and advocates with local and state representatives.
Being an advocate for people with disabilities has been extremely fulfilling for Laura and has allowed her to develop public speaking and leadership skills. As she advocates for others, Laura has learned the power of becoming her own self advocate as well. Recently, she decided to go back to school and further her education. Through Michigan Reconnect, a scholarship program that pays for or offers tuition discounts for adults attending community college, Laura enrolled in classes and is earning a degree in Business Administration. Peckham has supported Laura’s ability to achieve her goal, through its HECAP initiative – an opportunity for full-time team members to work 30 hours and use 10 hours for classes. This program provides additional space and time for participants to gain an education without missing out on pay.
Laura’s goal, once she obtains her degree, is to be promoted within Peckham to a management position. She is definitive in her choice to continue her career growth within the organization, “I like how I’m treated here. I fit right in,” she says.
If it wasn’t for Peckham, Laura guesses she would still be on disability and unable to get and/or maintain employment. After all, her previous attempts at stable employment were not successful. She says working at Peckham makes her feel part of a community and a family away from home. Moreover, the organization’s drive for constant re-education and cross-training allows team members like her to forge a professional path forward.
When it comes to taking the next chance in her career and her life, Laura is certain Peckham will provide that opportunity once more.
To learn more about Michigan Reconnect, please, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/reconnect
To see available positions on Peckham’s Contact Center Solutions, visit: https://www.peckham.org/jobs-careers/team-member-jobs/