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Nina _ REI.jpeg

Nina is a hard-worker with an optimistic outlook. She loves art, music, and spending time with friends. For many years, her high school transition program fostered her passions and socialization, but the end of the program meant losing a consistent space for those activities, connections, and – even more worryingly to Nina and her family – her access to job coaches and employment. TotalLink2 Community has been an invaluable resource for Nina, as the employment team at TotalLink assisted Nina in searching for work, and continue to enable her success in her career and beyond.

TotalLink was able to support Nina through the application process at REI in October 2022. REI was a great fit for Nina because she is able to utilize her organizational skills through organizational tasks, including stocking clothing items on shelves. 

“It was like a whole new world,” Nina explained. “I really stepped out of my comfort zone.” For her role, she was instructed on how to complete organizational tasks, such as stocking clothing items on shelves. Nina quickly became accustomed to the routine and started taking on new responsibilities.

For three months, her employment coaches attended shifts with her, ensuring that the role was a good fit and supporting her throughout new experiences and challenges. Nina and her employment team worked together to decide when she was ready for more independence at the job; as Nina’s self-reliance and skills grew, her coaches took the time to step back and provide her the opportunity to practice independence on the job. “Nina always came in with a smile on her face and a willingness to learn something new, TotalLink's Employment Specialist, Greg, shares. “The longer she works there, the more confident she is in her role, and the more comfortable she is leaning on her teammates for support when needed.” The team gradually transitioned to daily check-ins at work.

Now, when she needs help on the job – such as reaching for high shelves – she asks her co-workers for their assistance. The team is very supportive and always lends a hand when she expresses her needs.

In the span of six months, Nina has already received a promotion and increased independent responsibilities across multiple departments, and has met every new challenge with a smile. “[Nina] is always up for taking on a new task or learning something new,” TotalLink's Employment Specialist, Molly, shares. “It makes me so happy to see her growth and confidence skyrocket since joining the REI team, both at work and outside of work.” Nina’s confidence makes her shine on the job and in her everyday life with her family and friends, and has truly transformed her ability to engage in new challenges. “I am so comfortable with customers now,” Nina comments on her progress. “I’ve opened up to trying new things.”

“Nina has been great to work with and will be a major help in getting products to the sales floor more efficiently. Her positive attitude is contagious, and everyone at REI is thrilled to have her on the team.” 

- Sean (stockroom manager) 

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