The people who join Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) are special. They are compassionate individuals dedicated to helping people with barriers to employment find meaningful work. They celebrate every small success their clients achieve. Dayna Sharon is just that kind of WOU employee, and when she met Natalie Hutchinson, she saw a kindred spirit.

Dayna Sharon (L) and Natalie Hutchinson (R)

Dayna started with WOU as a Career Resource Specialist (CRS) in 2018 after recruiters saw her resume online. Soon after, she was promoted to Team Leader and then became Director of the Worcester/Framingham, MA market in 2021. She was relieved to be done with the work-life imbalance and toxic work environments of previous jobs. As she puts it, “I came from a place where I wasn’t valued, and I think everybody should feel valued at work…I feel like WOU has spoiled me for other companies. This is the most supportive company that I’ve ever worked for.” It’s no wonder that Dayna loves to share her business cards with others who might be a good fit at WOU.

That’s why Dayna had to talk to Natalie about WOU when she saw her natural support instincts on a client visit. When Dayna stopped in on her client, a cashier at a retail chain, she immediately noticed that her client was getting flustered at the register. Dayna helped her client manage anxiety and short-term memory issues by keeping detailed notes on job tasks for future reference, so she kept her distance at first to give her a chance to handle things on her own. When it was clear the client needed assistance, Dayna headed over to help but before she could reach her, Natalie – a fellow store employee – got there first.

Natalie was her manager’s go-to trainer for new hires, so when Dayna’s client started, Natalie says, “I was one of the first people to work with her and try to come up with solutions to her barriers.” Dayna observed and was impressed with what she saw: “Natalie talked to her about what was going on, gave her reassurance, and helped her finish the transaction. Before she walked away, she said, ‘What can we do to help you for next time? Let’s write it down.’ Natalie found paper and wrote down step by step how to do this task – the same intervention that I would have done. She just had the instincts.” Dayna approached Natalie and introduced herself, and that’s when she realized Natalie was the nice coworker her client had mentioned in the past. Dayna said, “I had an idea in my head before I met Natalie that she was patient, she was kind, and my client felt comfortable with her.”

Natalie had recently moved and needed employment, but she saw working at this retail location as a temporary solution. Having worked in retail herself, Dayna understood how challenging the culture could be. As they chatted, Dayna shared how much she loved working at WOU. Natalie recalls, “It was nice to see someone have such faith in their employer at a time where that’s not overly common.” Natalie was intrigued; this seemed like her opportunity to do something fulfilling. She enjoys working with people one-on-one, fondly recalling her days planning recreational activities at a nursing home: “I like that sense of knowing that I helped someone today, to see that measurable improvement that I made in somebody’s life.” Before Dayna could hand over a business card, Natalie asked if WOU was hiring.

Dayna could easily vouch for the qualities that would make Natalie a great CRS, since she had witnessed them in action while helping her client. Natalie was hired as a CRS in the Lowell, MA market in October 2021, and she loves working at WOU! She says, “The amount of teamwork that goes into training a new CRS is fantastic. I have never seen a company have their stuff together quite like WOU. It’s amazing to see and I’m so proud to work for this company.”

If Natalie had to pick her favorite part of her job as a CRS, she says it would be “seeing a client’s success. Even if it seems small to you, just knowing that they’re happier than they were, that they’re proud of their accomplishments. Watching them blossom. It impresses me that people can grow with just a little bit of encouragement.” Natalie also loves how no two days are the same: “You might visit the same client every Tuesday, but what they need help with one Tuesday might be completely different from what they need the next week. I like that I’m there to adapt to what they need and figure out how to overcome whatever barrier they come across at work during that week.” She feels lucky that her clients trust her to help them.

Would Natalie refer others to WOU? She feels strongly that it takes the right kind of person to undertake such complex and important work, but she says, “if I came across the right person, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to apply!” With that in mind, it’s exceptionally serendipitous that Dayna saw Natalie’s natural talent for working at WOU. Natalie is thriving as a CRS, serving the greater purpose of helping her clients find meaningful employment no matter what challenges they may face. That’s the power of connectivity at work!