Angela embarks on new employment journey at florist

Mar 14, 2021

Angela 1 for web

In 2020, we continued to work with 2,500 people by maintaining a variety of our program offerings, gradually reopening others, and adapting to virtual services where necessary.  This was made possible because of our collaborative partners and generous donors.

When asked how the challenges of the last year have affected her working relationship with people served by Rise, Amber Barnes, an employment consultant at Rise, said, “My role is both job coaching and assisting people to find a good job. Before COVID-19, I would be able to meet with people more often and for longer period of time. But now my time with them is often cut short. I don’t get to know them as well and it is hard to learn their personalities and motivations while helping them in searching for employment.”

Fortunately, a local florist in the Twin Cities area allowed Amber the space and time on-site to support Angela Yang, a 20-year-old woman living with autism, as she began her new work experience job and until she was ready to complete her new job tasks on her own. Angela’s work is part of a workplace readiness program managed by Rise for youth ages 16-21 with disabilities who are in school. The program focuses on job exploration counseling, work-based learning, self-advocacy skills, and counseling on post-secondary education.

Starting a new job can be an unnerving experience for anyone, including family members. As Angela’s mother Judy shares, “I hope she makes friends here and look forward to her having opportunities to express herself and get out of her shell.”

Connecting with Rise has already shown to ease some of Judy’s anxiety.  “Angela does not talk much, but being able to have Amber guide her has been really, really good. It’s helpful and makes me more comfortable to have Amber. Angela is artistic and likes working with pretty things, so this is a good fit.”

During a typical workday, Angela says she will “unpack pallets of flowers and set them on tables” for assembly alongside other staff members. Angela’s dedicated work ethic was immediately obvious to Amber, who added, “She is a super hard worker and does not like to stop working – I have to remind her to take a break.”

“This job is helping her to be independent” said Amber, who remarked how working at a florist is a chance for Angela to gain real work experience and learn new skills, including efficiency and organization, as she gears up for a future career path. “She originally told me she wants to work in a flower shop, so this is a great work experience!”

In her free time, Angela’s artistic interests extend past her floral job. “I like to watch anime – and draw it too,” she shared. As far as next career steps go, Angela is “not sure. It’s been pretty good here so far.” In the meantime, Amber is grateful for the space that allows Angela to learn and grow new skills. “It’s a big deal!”

With a smile in her eyes when asked what her favorite flowers are, Angela immediately says, “Lilies!”