Growing up in West Chester, Nina would watch her adult siblings dress and go to work each morning. She longed to be like them. But her disability interfered with a traditional career path.
In 2017, she found employment — and so much more — at Handi-Crafters in Thorndale.
The Handi-Crafters setting provided her with ample socialization opportunities and a sense of pride: Like the rest of her family, she found purpose in reporting to a daily job.
The COVID-19 outbreak, however, sidetracked everything. Like most Chester County worksites, the fulfillment center closed.
The hiatus lasted six months, during which both Handi-Crafters locations were thoroughly cleaned. Management put into effect safety measures that included employee temperature checks, screening questions, and daily handwashing breaks.
Nina fortunately found structure in other ways. She took Zoom classes and participated in online group activities through a virtual summer camp. When her turn for a vaccine came up, she got the shot right away.
Her mother, Karen, gradually reintroduced her to the rigors of a workday.
Now, after more than a year of anticipation over returning to work, Nina is back onsite in Thorndale.
“I don’t know what we would do without Handi-Crafters.” Karen said. “It’s not about the paycheck. It’s about the bonds she creates.
“The social aspect is very important for her. These are the aspects of working a job that able-bodied folks like ourselves take for granted every day.
“She is so excited to be back to work. But is definitely exhausted when she comes home.”