Aug 15, 2023

Meet Debra and Chantelle: Associate Profile

You can tell by the smiles on their faces that Debra and Chantelle are optimists. The mother and daughter have faced some significant challenges in life, but they always push forward. For example, Chantelle has a disability that impacts her brain functionality—and yet, she won’t allow this to keep her from being successful.

The two recently accepted jobs as DI associates so that Chantelle could learn new skills. Debra was aware that DI hired people with disabilities and worked with them to develop workplace skills, but the job has given them so much more.

“My favorite thing is watching Chantelle come out her shell,” Debra says. “When we first started here, I thought she would learn job skills and learn to be independent. But I have watched her grow in so many ways that I can’t even tell you all of them.”

When asked about her favorite part of the job, Chantelle proves her mom’s point.

“Meeting new people,” she says excitedly.

Chantelle didn’t always feel this way, however. Her early days on the job were a challenge because she felt that people didn’t quite understand her. Nevertheless, Chantelle’s job coach Jessica took Chantelle under her wing and immediately began reshaping her experience.

“Her whole mental outlook just bloomed—it just burst,” Debra says about Chantelle’s connection with Jessica. “Through working here, her walls have been breaking down. The job has been helping her in so many areas. We came for her to learn how to work, and we’ve gotten so much more.”

Chantelle has been riding that momentum and is now working to overcome some anxieties and fears and to build confidence in her abilities.

“I like being here to help,” Chantelle says.

Debra says that the two of them contribute to the workplace by being dependable, punctual, observant, hardworking, and collaborative. But they also help DI while off the clock.

“We spread the word that DI is a fun place to work,” Debra says. “It’s the best place—it really is. There is always somebody there to be like, ‘Look what you’ve done, look where you’re going, look where you’ve come from, and look at the opportunities you have.’ And those growth opportunities open to you through DI is one thing you don't have in the outside world.”

DI associates Debra and Chantelle smile at the camera