When Patricia Lepe grows up, she wants to be an artist at Cartoon Network. A senior at Concord High School, Patricia looks forward to graduating in the spring and moving to California to learn more about art and work toward her career goals.

Patricia heads to Reverie in Goshen each Monday to work for a few hours and gain experience so she will be prepared to enter the work world once she graduates. The yarn and gift shop has been a place for Patricia to work through her shyness and learn soft skills such as taking instruction, coming to work on time, asking for help when needed and communicating effectively with her supervisor.

She landed this job as part of ADEC’s transitional employment program, offered through Vocational Rehabilitation referrals. ADEC now serves 55 young adults who want to try out different career paths, learn what it takes to hold a job and explore their future options.

Patricia’s job at Reverie has been a great fit because the business already has a heart for women in the arts. Eight women partnered together to open this shop four years ago as a way to try something new in their retirement. Rose Widmer, a partner in the business, said “We just did what we enjoyed doing, and it worked.”

“From our point of view as all women owners, it’s been great to encourage a young woman as an artist,” Rose said.

On Patricia’s first day, she was paired with Rose to learn the ropes at Reverie. It was Halloween, and Reverie was participating in Goshen’s Main Street Trick or Treat event. For Patricia’s first work assignment, Rose asked her to greet everyone who came in and offer them candy.

“She said she was shy and didn’t really feel comfortable at first, but I worked with her on what to say,” Rose said before Patricia interjected, “I felt comfortable in the end,” with a proud smile.

Since then, Patricia spends each Monday learning a new task from Rose. She’s learned to price items, put out displays, run the cash register and wind yarn.

Daniel Crowder, ADEC Employment Consultant, likened Patricia’s growth in the job to a flower blooming in a flower pot.

“When I first started working with Patricia, she was very quiet,” Daniel said. “She would only speak to her mom. It’s night and day, the transformation we’ve seen. She’s one of my rock stars . . . This has been a confidence builder for her as a young person – she knows what to expect at work now.”

Patricia and Rose hope she will be able to work at Reverie until she graduates in the spring. Just this past week, she learned how to work the loom and weave yarn to make her own fabric.

“We’ve really enjoyed it,” Rose said. “It’s been fun getting to know her, and she’s a very willing worker. When Dan first came by to talk about this, we agreed right away, but we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t expect we’d have such a hard worker.”

Photo by Daniel Crowder | ADEC Employment Consultant