When Nathan, 27, started working at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital (MCAH) in Monkton, Md., staff and clients alike immediately took to him, and he to them, and in the year and a half he’s been at MCAH he’s been dubbed the high-five champion and brings a smile to everyone each day he’s on the job.
It was Barbara Feiner, MCAH’s Client/Patient Care Coordinator, who first recommended hiring someone with a disability at the animal hospital, which has been serving the Northern Baltimore and Southern York community for more than 30 years. She approached Penn-Mar about its Community Employment program and began the process of finding the right person for the job. When Nathan, who has fragile X syndrome, came along, Barbara says it was love at first sight.
“Nathan is a gentleman,” said Barbara. “He’s a wonderful guy and so great to have around. He’s always on the ready to lend a helping hand and his enthusiasm for his job and positivity is infectious. And he laughs at my jokes!” When Barbara broke her foot last year, Nathan would wait for her to come in and help her carry all her work materials and would check on her regularly to see if she needed anything.
Nathan’s main responsibility at MCAH is maintaining the cleanliness and tidiness of the facility, but over time, his duties have expanded due to how quickly and effectively he has learned and completed his tasks. Open to feedback, Nathan is concerned about doing a good job – double checking his work as he goes. “He’s very conscientious,” said Barbara. “Sometimes we’ll be talking, sharing a laugh, and he’ll say, ‘Gotta get back to work, gotta get back to work now.’”
“Nathan understands that he has very important responsibilities at work,” said Gary Madigan, Penn-Mar Community Employment Manager. “Certainly you can have fun while at work to make it enjoyable, and I think that’s what Nathan does. Being himself, he brings joy to his job and Mt. Carmel appreciates that he’s able to get his work done and still make everyone feel good, which he does.”
Barbara has seen a lot of growth in Nathan in the time he’s been at MCAH. His confidence and comfort level have grown and he’s been known to bust a move while at work, especially to the Macarena. One example of his growth, Barbara sites, is how he was initially rather tentative with the animals that come through the hospital, but today is comfortable approaching them and asking if he can pet them. Nathan’s sociability, she notes, has spilled out into the waiting room where he regularly interacts with the clients. “He just makes everybody smile.”
Last year, Gary Madigan nominated Nathan for Maryland Works’ Employee of the Year award. Although he didn’t win, Nathan was recognized along with the other nominees at the 10th Annual Employment Awards Luncheon that was held this past November. It was a very proud moment for him, his family and everyone who attended.
Clearly an all-round winner, Nathan is someone any employer would want to have working for them. Happier clocking in to work than clocking out, he’s transformed his life through his continued success at Mt. Carmel and along the way has been brightening everyone’s day.