Shop Online

Success Stories

NYSID News Blog

March 12, 2014

Katie’s Tale is an Inspiration to Everyone

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:36 pm

This touching article was submitted by Jim and Mary Holleran of Penfield, parents of Katie Holleran, a 2013 Joslin Outstanding Performer from CDS Monarch/Unistel in Rochester.

Katie, 28, was born with Down syndrome and is the older sister to Liam and Claire Holleran.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Katie, and happy National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to all!

National Developmental Disabilities Month coincides with Katie Holleran’s favorite month, March, a time for her family’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party, a chance to reconnect with old friends, an opportunity to savor the rich life she leads.

Katie isn’t dwelling on the month’s theme, “Ability at Work.” Rather, she’s fixated on donning a shamrock on the 17th and working the front door. She’ll issue an assortment of shrieks, hugs and “OMGs!” for neighbors, old classmates and friends. Our friends will marvel at her social skills, her ability to recall names and stories, her confidence and independence. Once we put this celebration aside, Katie, our self-proclaimed “social butterfly,” will tell you how work has become a cornerstone of her life.

She rises at 5:30 each weekday to catch her transportation to CDS Monarch/Unistel in Rochester, where she works on a production line to package spices. Like most of her work pals, Katie complains about the “drama queens” who gossip, immerses herself in the everyday goings-on of her friends, and fancies herself a versatile worker who handles multiple stations on the spice run. If work provides an identity, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment, the paycheck works its own magic.

Katie’s skills and talents generate a paycheck that nearly equals minimum wage. She earns enough to share a supported apartment with a friend, but rarely sits at home. Her wages are recirculated into tickets at the Rochester Broadway Theatre League, country and western concerts, and gifts for her godchild. She is spending locally on rent, groceries, cellphone, haircuts, nail treatments and clothes. She pays her taxes and drops her envelope each Sunday in the collection basket at church. Her confidence mushrooms when she says, “I’ll get the check.”

As parents, we’re most proud of her work ethic. In the year that she lived independently, with four hours of support in the afternoons to organize cooking and cleaning, she has dragged herself out of bed each morning and missed her bus just once. One blemish in 52 weeks speaks to the reliability and dedication Katie brings to the workplace. She lives to work, and works to live an active life.


NYSID RESOURCES member tools