Michelle Belle Success Story

Michelle Belle

Michelle Bell
Successful Employee, Mother, Co-worker and Friend

Eight years ago, I went to a DDS mentoring day event.  At this event, I heard Carol Grabbe speaking about self-advocacy.  Hearing Carol speak got me both interested and inspired about becoming a peer self-advocate.  I heard about a job posting at the Arc of Meriden for a peer self-advocate and applied for the job.  I was then called in for an interview.  At the interview, I was able to speak about advocacy because I had remembered what I had learned on mentoring day.

In my job some of my responsibilities include attending individual IP’s, working on my newsletter in which I include success stories and upcoming events, accomplishments such as people learning how to take the bus and how to get a job.

I self-direct my own services and after several staff I found a good match in Jolene.  Some of the qualities I was looking for that Jolene has are she is organized; she helps me and teaches me not to get overwhelmed.  She also helps me with my son which I will talk about later.

As we know, transportation is a challenge for all people.  Some of the things I have tried are getting rides from coworkers.  I also learned how to take the bus.  This has helped me a lot.  I take the bus not only to work but I can also go shopping, to the pharmacy to get what I need, and take trips to the mall.  I can also go and pay bills now that I have learned to take the bus.  The best person I like to go see is my son, Jonah.  Jolene, my direct support staff, now gives me rides to work on Mondays and Fridays.

The most rewarding things I like about my job are helping the individuals when I see they are upset.  When I see something is wrong I report it to a coworker.  I pride myself on knowing that individuals feel safe coming to me about anything.  When looking for a job, my advice I would give to is to go in with a positive attitude, dress appropriately and most importantly to be professional.

As I mentioned before, we are going to talk about my son. He is four years old and his name is Jonah.  He is the best part of my life and the love of my life.  My son is a child with special needs.  He attends school a couple hours each day where he receives the services he needs.  Since going to school he has made much progress.

While raising a child with special needs can be challenging, my ex-husband Arthur and I share custody of Jonah.  I have Jonah three days a week and I need support while I have him.  Jolene is helping me to learn how to be more independent with Jonah so that I can reach my goal of having Jonah alone with me.  My mother is also a great help to me.

Some advice I would share with parents is to make sure to be a good advocate for yourself and your child.  When at doctor’s appointments, speak up, ask questions, request paperwork, beware of your child’s medication and all their side effects. These things are very important.

While there are a lot of challenges to being a parent and a lot of things to be aware of especially if your child has special needs, I wouldn’t change being a mom for the world and I’m so proud to be a mom.

Some of the best things I enjoy is watching Jonah grow, laughing at things, watching him meet his milestones, hearing him make noises and taking lots of pictures with him!   Spending time with Jonah brings me so much happiness but always remember that as a mom you need to take some time for yourself.  One of the ways I do is that I love to run.  I am proud to say I just recently ran a 5k.  So as you can see it is possible to be a successful employee, mother, coworker and friend.  With the right support you can do anything you set your mind to!!