Chickasaw citizen Micah Stringer is a familiar face around the Chickasaw Nation Child Care Center.
Working as a laundry attendant, the 22-year-old diligently completes his daily duties of collecting, laundering, folding and delivering all towels, linens, clothing and stuffed animals for the 200 children at the child care center.
Micah, born with the genetic disorder Downs Syndrome, has worked in the position for more than a year and it is a job he enjoys.
Having Micah on staff gives teachers more time to focus on the children and curriculum. Micah is comfortable around the children and his diligence and warm-personality have earned him the respect of his co-workers.
“I like my job,” Micah said, “I have made a lot of friends.”
He makes a valuable contribution to the child care center thanks to the help of a dedicated team of vocational rehabilitation counselors and staff at the Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation department.
Determined her son would not be limited by his disability and to secure a brighter future him, Micah’s mother, Shellie Horton, sought the assistance of vocational rehabilitation services.
“Growing up, Micah attended Ada public schools. He was engaged with other children, made friends and learned valuable life skills,” Ms. Horton said.
But after graduation, Micah was not exposed to much social interaction. He became largely inactive, spending his days watching TV with his grandmother while his mother was at work.
Micah, of Allen, Oklahoma, still pursued a variety of interests such as, music, books, cars, drawing, sports, design and songwriting. He also participated in Special Olympics, but Ms. Horton remained concerned about his overall lack of social interaction and lack of employment opportunities.
“Independent living was not an option for Micah,” Ms. Horton said, “But I wanted him to be out exercising and meeting people.”
Ms. Horton reached out to the vocational rehabilitation department to see what could be done to improve Micah’s quality of life.
After assessing Micah’s strengths and limitations, the vocational rehabilitation staff was able to secure a suitable employment situation for the young man, while fulfilling a need and providing a valuable service.
“When we learned Micah enjoyed folding laundry, we started exploring which (Chickasaw Nation) department might have a need for this service. We were able to work with the child care facility to create a position where Micah could be successful and beneficial for the facility,” vocational rehabilitation counselor Nicholas Buckley said.
Before Micah became the laundry attendant for the facility, a teacher in each classroom was responsible for the laundry of the classroom.
Chickasaw Nation Child Care staff is grateful to have Micah on staff, because of his dedication and positive attitude.
“The love and gratitude that has been reciprocated as a result of working with Micah, has left my co-workers and I with a lifetime of memories,” Ms. Johna Engel, special education teacher assistant said, “Micah has a true desire to learn and grow. He enjoys the sense of accomplishment that working brings. We are so glad to have Micah as part of our Team!”
Chickasaw Nation Vocational Rehabilitation assists Chickasaws, and other Native Americans with disabilities who live within the Chickasaw Nation boundaries, secure employment or return to suitable employment.
Once eligibility has been verified and confirmed, individuals work with a vocational rehabilitation counselor to design an individual development plan.
A monthly job club is also available to vocational rehabilitation clients. Job club provides various opportunities for clients to learn more about career searching, resume writing, interviewing strategies and a variety of other individual skills development.
For more information, please call (580) 421-7711 or visit Chickasaw.net/vocrehab.
Miranda Elliott works with Chickasaw Nation Public Affairs.