When Alicia was ready to join the workforce, she did not know the sheltered workshop in Fruitland existed. While still in high school, her brother helped her get a job at a restaurant in Cape Girardeau.
There she worked for two years, doing a variety of jobs, from serving drinks to stocking foods to cutting fruit.
“I worked all over,” Alicia said. “I am one of those people who like to be switched around.”
Alicia enjoyed working with her co-workers and dealing with customers.
However, she “didn’t fit well with the manager.” She did not like to clean at this restaurant because if she didn’t mop the floor the right way she would have to do it again, Alicia said.
It was due to a misunderstanding that caused the manager to yell at Alicia in front of her co-workers and customers. That humiliation was the final straw in her employment there and she decided to quit.
“It’d be different if they took me into the office to talk to me,” Alicia noted.
After leaving her first job, she got a job at a fast food restaurant that was also in Cape. Transportation was never an issue at either job, because she had her own car and could drive herself to and from the restaurants.
Alicia did “pretty much everything,” at her next job. She worked at the restaurant for three years and liked her co-workers and her job.
After a misunderstanding with the manager and another public scolding, she quit. When she left, the restaurant gave her a negative report stating that they would not rehire her.
“They told every place I applied that I am not re-hirable,” she said. “The manager told everyone I walked out too many times.”
Alicia is grateful her father learned about the sheltered workshop and that the company would take a chance on her.
“I’m not going to quit here. I’m going to be staying here for a long time,” Alicia said. “I really love the managers. They are so sweet and kind.”
Luckily for Alicia, transportation is not an issue. Even though her car is not in working condition, a van picks her up and takes her back home from the workshop each day.
One of the best parts about working at the workshop, she said, is if she is having a bad day or feels an anxiety attack coming on, she is allowed to go into the break room and put her head down for a while.
“I try my hardest to work all six hours,” Alicia said, adding that sometimes the medications she needs to take for her condition don’t always work and sometimes she just can’t finish the day.
Taking these breaks just wouldn’t have worked in the competitive employment realm.
“I couldn’t handle the stress at the restaurants,” Alicia said.