Mary Francis, age 60, works at the Salvation Army, a career she found through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) administered by Easterseals.
“Finding Easterseals and SCSEP was like being pulled from quicksand onto the solid ground,” Mary said.
In 2006, Mary’s world was turned upside down when she lost her husband, James Francis.
“He was the cornerstone of the family. He was the glue that kept us all together,” Mary said.
After her husband’s death, Mary kept her grief quiet and shut herself off. Her nine years of employment with the Bronx District Attorney’s office came to an end, and she could not seem to find comfort or a way to escape depression.
Finally, Mary decided to move to Schenectady, New York, to live with her sister, and ultimately found herself in New London, Connecticut where she also found Easterseals, and the chance for a new beginning.
A friend of James’ suggested Mary reach out to Terrance (Terry) Brown who was a career specialist for SCSEP at Easterseals Capital Region.
Soon after, Terry and Mary worked side-by-side to gather all of the paperwork necessary for her employment.
“I had no thought to what the next step would be. Terry gave me the will to go and the want to do,” Mary said.
With Terry’s good counsel, Mary started a training program at the New London Senior Center after expressing interest in working with older adults and young children. During this time, she also received training to work with people who have chronic illness, diabetes, and food handling. When her training was complete, she went on to another assignment at the Covenant Shelter of New London, where her professional skills continued to flourish.
In June 2015, after all of her preparation and hard work, Mary was offered a permanent position at the Salvation Army of New London as a case manager.
Now, Mary is able to draw upon her own experiences to help the people she works with at the Salvation Army, especially when it comes to asking for help.
In 2015 Mary received the SCSEP Participant of the Year award. When she finished giving her speech, she noticed tears on the faces of her SCSEP mentors and her kids.
Said Mary: “Working with Easterseals has allowed me to get back into my life again. The life I knew I had but allowed to die. It rejuvenated me.”