Crystal Shank’s Story
My name is Crystal Shank and I currently work for Lakeview Center, Inc. (LCI). I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
There are different variables, from mild to heavy, on how CP affects each person. In my case, I use a walker primarily for mobility. When I got to working age, I quickly found out that this was not going to be an easy task for me. However, in my mind, it was completely OK because I like challenges. One of the struggles that I have faced is, although I was eager to showcase what I could bring to the table at the time, I did not fully understand nor comprehend why I would get many calls for interviews, and be turned away as soon as I showed up because they were “fully‐staffed” or “too busy to interview” me. Fear not! I do not give up that easily. One day, I sat down with my thoughts to figure out what the next step was going to be, because sitting at home was never going to satisfy my spirit. Then it hit me! Throughout high school, I was connected to Vocational Rehabilitation through my Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist because both of them knew I wanted to do so much more with my life at a very young age.
Vocational Rehabilitation helps people, like myself, go through college, find employment and even assist with hand controls (in cars). So I decided that since finding employment on my own was tougher than I anticipated, I called them up just to see if maybe, just maybe, they remembered me. As soon as I told them my name, I was greeted as if I never left. I will never forget that moment.
Fast forward a couple months, a few tests ran and a few meet-and-greets later, I was introduced to Global Connections to Employment, Inc.’s (GCE) On‐the‐Job Training (OJT) Services. They were able to place me in a temporary position within Lakeview Center (LCI). I was then officially employed with LCI working on the Employment Services team.
I remember being scared after being turned away so many times. I remember thinking, “I do not think I will be here long.” But I told myself if I just do what I know I can do, it will be worth it. And it was! The temporary Employment Services position eventually turned into permanent part‐time, and then, part‐time turned into full‐time. I remember looking at my team and saying, “Are you sure? Is this real?”
At that moment, I realized after everything that has transpired, it just takes one person to truly see your full potential versus what is easily displayed on the outside. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do (and still do) was improve my way of living without assistance. I also wanted to show myself that even with limitations, CP does not stop me from doing all things possible.
Now, I am currently in the LCI Benefits Department. Every day is another opportunity to learn from my coworkers, peers and even other team members outside of my department. I am so thankful for this organization for giving me a purpose, and believing in me. If you have taken anything out of this week’s series, I want you to know that if you believe in yourself and your capabilities, with the right people supporting you and your dreams, nothing and no one can get in your way of those dreams!