Frank Loughran Award 2018
(Montgomery County, MD) – Work Opportunities Unlimited is pleased to announce that Maria Wardlow is the recipient of the prestigious Frank Loughran Award. The award recognizes excellence in Supported Employment and is given each year to an individual who has exhibited creativity in job development strategies for people with disabilities.
Founded upon the principle that all people can work, Work Opportunities Unlimited is a community-based, employment service provider specializing in placing people with disabilities, and job seekers who experience barriers to employment, in competitive work environments. As a Career Resource Specialist, Wardlow dedicates her days to breaking down barriers and opening the doors to possibilities, for people living with disabilities in Maryland. she helps prepare people for the workplace and supports them while on the job.
“Maria cares so much about helping others that she always goes above and beyond to be awesome at her job,” says Salsi Mane, Director of Career Services at Work Opportunities Unlimited. “Maria was the only one who was successful at placing a client who has been diagnosed with multiple disabilities; Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delay, Intellectual Disability, and speech impairment.”
“For the past nine years, this client has sought paid employment,” says Mane. “And within six months Maria was successful in securing a paid position for her at a movie theatre. Not only did Maria make the placement, she also managed to carve out a ticket taker position for her specific to her abilities. Maria also worked diligently with the client to help her become more independent on the job. Now, the client is working 2 days per week with only two hours of support per shift. Maria is also working with the local VR office to help her client receive Assistive Technology to make her job easier.”
“I operate from the perspective that you just have to try,” says Wardlow. “When placing this client, we ran into a lot of different challenges but that just meant we had to try different ways of doing things. It may sound simple, and you never know what the outcome will be, but you just have to try.”
I met with the movie theater manager and told him about my client, her desire for a job, and her many challenges. He agreed to meet with her and based on the interview, the manger felt she had the best personality for the job and knew she would be a good fit.”
“By placing this client, Maria inspires us all,” says Mane. “She demonstrates that when it comes to helping people with disabilities access community-based employment, giving up is not an option.”
About Work Opportunities Unlimited: With operations throughout the eastern United States, Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) is a community-based employment service provider specializing in placing job seekers who experience barriers to employment. The company serves thousands of adults and students annually. In addition to private citizens, WOU provides services to individuals referred by school districts, vocational rehabilitation programs, development disability agencies, Departments of Mental Health, Transitional Assistance, and Children and Families, as well as the U.S. Social Security Administration through the Ticket to Work program. For information, visit www.workopportunities.net.