Alice Kimble is celebrating her 17th year working at Lighthouse Child Development Center. Her journey has not been easy. However, she has never allowed challenges or employment barriers to diminish her sense of purpose, her pride, and most importantly, her contagious smile.
“To me, we all have a disability, the only difference is you can physically see mine,” said Alice.
Focusing on Her Abilities Rather Than Barriers
All her life Alice has enjoyed working with children. Her employment at Lighthouse, a daycare facility and private kindergarten for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old, gives her the opportunity to teach and interact with them each day.
“I like children’s natural curiosity and honesty. They look beyond the wheelchair at me, Ms. Alice, as a person that can give them a ride that day. They’re not looking at what I can’t do; they’re looking at what I can do,” said Alice.
Throughout the last 17 years, Alice has spent time with each age group and realized that she especially enjoys working with the older children who can ask her questions. Her favorite activity is giving rides to children on her chair, but she also spends time consoling babies, feeding children, and monitoring playtime outside.
Alice reminisced about one instance in which a 4-year-old boy became curious about why Ms. Alice doesn’t walk. She explained to him, “My muscles aren’t strong enough to help me walk, but yours are.” He shouted gladly, “Yeah, mine are!” Then he offered to trade his legs with Ms. Alice so she could walk around like him.
Alice’s employer, Sandi Ford, recognizes that Alice adds value at Lighthouse with more than just her job skills. “The children have learned respect for individuals with wheelchairs and because of Alice they have been taught to help others who are not always able to help themselves,” said Sandi Ford.
Ongoing Employment Support from PRIDE
PRIDE Industries has a long history of supporting Alice in her employment at Lighthouse. PRIDE offers many life- and career-related services to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. These include internships, on the job training and support, independent living services, and job search assistance.
Gloria, Alice’s job coach, has visited her for years. On a weekly basis, they talk about and solve any challenges she might be facing at work.
“Gloria is my sounding board,” explained Alice. “If there was a really big problem and I didn’t feel comfortable going alone to my employer saying this is what I need or this is what I would like, then I know I could call Gloria up and she’d step in and help me talk to them.”
PRIDE’s job coaches provide one-on-one support to help people like Alice find confidence in the workplace. They listen to employees’ struggles and successes while providing advice on how to deal with conflicts, approach a manager, make certain tasks more accessible, and other issues.
Inspiring Others to Find Meaningful Employment
Alice beautifully exemplifies PRIDE’s vision for each individual. She desires to give back to the community and fulfill a need for purpose in her life.
“I’ve always known that people are always going to have to help me, regardless of how old I am. My biggest goal in life was to really just work because I wanted to give back to society like they gave to me,” she said.
And Ms. Alice has proven herself to be a very valuable asset inspiring others in her community. She proudly related a story about a young girl she cared for during her first few years at Lighthouse, who told Ms. Alice that she wanted to grow up and be a doctor so she could help Ms. Alice and others like her. All these years later, this now young woman carries with her the precious memories of her childhood inspiration as she currently studies at San Francisco State to become a medical doctor.