A passion for the disabled

Too bad the computers that scan job applicant resumes can't see Nia Gibson's eyes light up when she talks about taking care of people with disabilities or developmental delays.

The resume seems fine, but pro forma. Gibson's enthusiasm is anything but. "It feels so good to be needed," she said. She used to work weekends at a group home and she loved walking in the door to be greeted with so much affection from the residents. She loved taking them to New York, or on outings. She was so proud that she taught a person how to use a straw -- even trained therapists hadn't been able to accomplish that.

HUXNiaGibson

Yes, it takes a lot of patience, she said, "but if you have the passion, you have the patience." Gibson joked that sometimes she has more patience for her clients than for her daughter who lives with her in Morrisville. "She's 7 and she knows everything." 

Most of the time, Gibson earned a living as an administrative assistant, specializing in human resources. At one point, she worked five days a week for a community-service agency as a human resource assistant and then moonlighted on the weekend for the agency working in a group home. That's when she fell in love with that kind of work, which is what she'd like to do.

Gibson has big dreams, for "when I'm rich, and I will be some day." She wants to run a home for people with developmental delays to teach them independence. She's also trying to build up a modeling business for children and would like to use that as a foundation to set up a pageant for young people with Down's syndrome. She imagines an "ugly duckling" pageant for people who are more beautiful on the inside than they are on the outside. "I don't want them to have the stereotype that you have to look a certain way to be accepted," she said.

These days, she's on welfare. She works as a supervisor at a Goodwill thrift store to continue to qualify for her benefits.  "Everybody has a story -- about how they've been living in a shelter, about how they have so many kids, how they don't have jobs," she said. "It leaves a lasting impression because there are so many people doing a lot worse than I am, so I wake up every day and give thanks to God."

Update: As of December, 2011, Nia Gibson is still looking for work.

 

  • Nia N. Gibson
  • Hometown: Morrisville
  • Profession: Administrative assistant, health aide
  • Experience: Worked as an aide for disabled and developmentally delayed people. Acted as a human resource administrative assistant, interviewing applicants, conducting orientation. Developed community support for people with disabilities, assisted in opening new group homes. Handled regular office work. 
  • Education: Ashworth Online College, coursework in psychology.
  • E-mail address: ceelady35@yahoo.com
  • Nia Gibson's resume

 

 

Read past profiles in the Looking for Work series. The series continues here on Fridays.

Read my Jobbing blog for other news/views on the workplace. 

 

The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.


Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

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