Impact Story - Gladys (The Louise M. Smith Center)

Gladys with Autauga/Western Elmore Arc Executive Director Jess Butrica.


Gladys may have been born with developmental delays, but she’s not letting that keep her out of the workforce.

In 1984, Gladys began attending day habilitation classes at the Louise M. Smith Development Center, which is operated by River Region United Way affiliate agency Autauga/Western Elmore Arc. The "day hab" program serves approximately 65 clients, ranging in age from early 20s to 70s, with a wide range of disabilities.

“Some need full assistance,” said Jess Butrica, executive director of Autauga/Western Elmore Arc. “Some, like Gladys, are very independent with everything except major decisions in life.”

Students in the day hab program receive individualized training in skills they’ll use in their daily lives, in order to facilitate more independent living.

In 2014, Gladys told the staff at Smith Center that she wanted to find a job.

“She knew she was capable of working,” said Butrica. “She really hit the ground running.”

With help from the Alabama Department of Rehabilitative Services, she completed two internships, one with TJ Maxx and one with the Prattville Holiday Inn. Once Holiday Inn learned that Gladys’s internship was nearing its end, they were determined that she be hired on in a paid position.

Gladys got a job working part time in the laundry department at Holiday Inn. Her supervisor reported to the staff at the Smith Center that Gladys’s excitement for her job has greatly boosted the morale of other employees. Butrica said that Gladys hates to miss work, and has turned down opportunities for special activities with the Smith Center, such as going to Biscuits baseball games, in order to go to work.

“United Way funding is very, very important to our agency,” Butrica said. “Our day program would be the number one program affected without United Way funds.”

Other Smith Center students are getting job training like Gladys and are finding jobs in the community. The staff hopes more can find the same level of success as Gladys.


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