Every Thursday, with an exuberant “Hey, Girls!” and a big smile on her face, Sunya Faridi strides into the West Liberty Child Development Center in White Hall, Md., to do a job she loves, among people who love working with her.
Sunya began working at West Liberty about a year-and-a-half ago. The job came about through Penn-Mar’s Community Employment (CE) program and a cold call to the Whitehall daycare center, a mission of the West Liberty United Methodist Church. Cold calls involve CE staff researching and selecting area businesses and organizations that might best match an individual’s talents, skills, and employment desires, and then approaching those businesses to learn about their prospective employment needs.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” said West Liberty Director Ginna Birkenbach, who, prior to the call, had been considering hiring an individual with disabilities to be a part of their team.
Sunya’s day begins with restocking supplies in the kitchen, restrooms and classrooms, and prepping for lunch. She’s on hand for any assistance she can provide teachers in the preschool program for three- to four-year-olds, and also at lunch time, when she and all the staff sit down with the young students as part of good lunch etiquette.
“She’s fit right in. Sunya’s very smiley, happy, and interactive with the children, and has formed some nice relationships with the girls who work here,” said Ginna. “She’s also very independent. When she comes in, she knows exactly what to do, and rarely asks for help. She wants to get her work done by herself, if she can.”
Penn-Mar Community Employment Manager Gary Madigan can attest to Sunya’s independence and upbeat attitude, and says that she’s a stand-out with her beaming smile. “Sunya’s always very pleasant, a ball of positive energy, and a joy to be around.”
Gary added that Sunya loves working around kids, and that it was through the CE program’s Exploration and Discovery process that they were able to hone in on her desire to help others and finding the best working environment for her.
When she’s not at West Liberty on Thursday, Sunya is very active at Penn-Mar’s Day Program, where she takes a number of classes in life skills, art, and sometimes cooking. Among her favorite things to do is spending time with her mom Farida, who Sunya said, recently brought in a cake to work to celebrate her 26th birthday with her coworkers and students. The oldest of four, she, her two sisters and brother all live at home.
Asked how she likes her job at West Liberty Child Development Center, Sunya’s response: “I love it, it’s so good.”
“Everyone is excited to see Sunya on Thursday morning,” said Ginna. “It’s been a great experience. Having her here enhances our community inside the center. We’re lucky to have her.”