With a part-time job she loves at Flowers by Cindy in Glen Rock, Pa., and surrounded by the love and support of all the people in her life, it’s easy to say that everything’s coming up roses for Holly Burkholder.
Holly, 45 and a longtime Penn-Mar Maryland resident, started her job at Flowers by Cindy this past March. In the short time she’s been there she’s impressed her boss and the flower shop’s owner Cindy Cancilla so much that she’s picked up a few extra shifts here and there, and more time in during the holiday season.
As Penn-Mar Employment Support Coordinator Lila Barchey put it, “Everything has been going great from the beginning. Every time I stop in to visit, Holly is so happy. She’s always willing to help out, learn a new task, and pick up extra hours. We’re currently practicing how to take phone orders and to answer the phone when needed.”
Enveloped by the colors, fragrances and beauty of the flowers she processes, and colleagues she regularly jokes and gets along so well with, it’s no wonder Holly is happy. But as she pointed out, her happiness also comes from working. “I like working. I love working with my hands. And I like keeping busy!”
Holly, an experienced knitter, who may soon be selling some of her knitted hats and shawls in the shop in time for the holidays, has worked most of her adult life. Until 2017, for a number of years, she worked as a part-time Administrative Assistant at Central York Middle School. Needless to say, Holly has picked up many skills over the years and a level of independence that for Cindy, as an employer and business owner, has been a blessing.
A Perfect Fit
It was through Penn-Mar’s Customized Employment Program’s Exploration and Discovery (E & D) process that led Holly to her new job at Flowers by Cindy. Cindy, a retired special education teacher of 29 years, who opened her shop in 2011, has worked with Penn-Mar for several years now, providing E & D opportunities for individuals to test out their skills through hands-on job training sessions in her shop. The partnership with Penn-Mar evolved after Cindy first hired Penn-Mar resident Greg Senkbeil in 2015. Unfortunately, due to unexpected family circumstances, Greg had to leave his position, and that’s when Holly stepped in.
“Greg was still working here at the time Holly came in for some job training and experience. When he left, I reached out to Penn-Mar and asked if Holly was still available. I knew she could handle the workload.”
Holly’s main job at Flowers by Cindy is processing the flowers for bouquets, arrangements, decorations and events big and small. She removes leaves and thorns from stems and prepares the flowers for cutting and arranging by the shops designers. She also does some cleaning and keeps herself busy, helping out wherever she can. self-motived, Holly will always find something to do.
“Once in a while, I’ll wonder why it might be taking Holly longer than usual to process the flowers,” said Cindy. “I’ll walk back and not only is she done with the flowers, she’s washed the buckets, she’s mopping the floor, she is doing something. She has initiative and dedication. If she sees that it needs to be done, than it’s going to be done.”
Customizing a job for an individual based on an employer’s needs requires understanding of an individual’s skill sets, talents and desires. Cindy understands that for individuals like Holly who has a developmental disability, structure and routine are very important. In turn, one of the primary benefits of having hired people with disabilities that Cindy has experienced is that it has allowed her to structure her staff to be the most efficient and organized.
“We have some jobs in the shop that are very much structure and routine oriented,” said Cindy. “Because of this, Holly has a chance to thrive in what she’s working on. She has a feeling of mastery and accomplishment, and you can see the pride on her face, because she knows what she’s doing and has control of that.”