Autism Hasn’t Stopped Her from Being Exemplary Employee

By Buffy Pollock, Medford Mail Tribune, May 18, 2018

Glenda Van Ortwick sorts beads Tuesday at Dancing Beads in Medford, Oregon, where she is considered an outstanding employee. (Photo credit: Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune)

It could have seemed that Dancing Beads owner Carol Garfield was simply doing a good deed by offering a job in her busy downtown shop to a Medford woman with a developmental disability. But seeing employee Glenda Van Ortwrick engaged as a member of Garfield’s team proves she couldn’t have hand-picked a better employee.

Now just weeks from her two-year anniversary with the downtown Medford shop, Van Ortwick, who is on the autism spectrum, was quiet and reserved for a short time when she first began. With two years under her belt, she is confident in her work and engaging with co-workers and in her personal life.

Ironically, said Garfield, what was deemed a chance for her to provide an opportunity for a new hire ultimately proved an even bigger blessing for her own business.

Trained, placed and then coached through services provided by Ackley Counseling & Employment Services (ACES) and Living Opportunities, Van Ortwick has tackled finding suitable employment, learned new tasks and set out to expand her horizons since she began at Dancing Beads.

Garfield said the initial plan was to allow job coaches to utilize her hands-on shop to teach job skills and assess types of skills.

What she ended up with was a sneak preview of the woman who would become like part of Garfield’s work family and a diligent worker with reliability and extreme attention to detail.

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