Daphne Hutchinson Finds Meaningful Employment and Personal Growth through Monarch’s IPS Services

ESP Alexis Prunczik (left) and Daphne Hutchison (right) outside of Cracker Barrell in Lumberton, NC.

On her first day as a new waitress at Cracker Barrel Lumberton, NC, Daphne Hutchison felt a mix of nerves and excitement. This wasn’t just a new job for Daphne — it was a big step towards gaining confidence and independence. Her journey to this point has been a team effort, with Monarch’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program and her own determination working together every step of the way.

Three years ago, Daphne’s life changed dramatically. She lost her mom, and soon after, her stepdad. As if that wasn’t enough, her landlord also passed away, leaving her without a home. Feeling lost and overwhelmed, she turned to Monarch for help. It was there that she learned about the IPS program, which assists people with mental illness as they seek jobs and find meaningful employment. Daphne started the IPS program in late 2023. She was paired with Alexis Prunczik, an Employment Support Specialist (ESP). Alexis played a key role in helping Daphne find stability and confidence. “Daphne was very shy when we first met,” Alexis recalls. “Although she was reserved, I could tell she was determined and ready to make a change.”

The IPS program is about more than just finding a job. It’s about building a partnership. Alexis and Daphne worked together closely, focusing on building the skills Daphne needed to step back into the workforce. Together, they tackled job applications, practiced interview skills, and discussed workplace etiquette. Alexis always encouraged Daphne, making sure she knew that every small step was a big accomplishment. “Positive reinforcement is really important,” Alexis explains. “Daphne needed to know that every effort she made was a step forward.”

Over time, Daphne began to feel more confident. Alexis helped her find and apply for various jobs, including her current role at Cracker Barrel. “Starting at Cracker Barrel was both exciting and scary,” Daphne says. “I was worried about making mistakes, especially because I’m naturally shy. But Alexis helped me get ready, and that made a big difference.”

This job required Daphne to use strong interpersonal skills, as she needed to be personable and welcoming with customers — something that once made her very nervous. But with Alexis’s help and the skills she learned from the IPS program, Daphne felt more prepared. Alexis was there on Daphne’s first day at Cracker Barrel, supporting her from the background. “Seeing her on the job, engaging with customers, I felt so proud,” Alexis says. “She was nervous, but she did it, and that was amazing to see.”

Daphne Hutchison (left) and ESP Alexis Prunczik (right) outside of her new place of employment.

As Daphne continues to settle into her new job, Alexis remains a constant source of support. They still meet regularly to talk about Daphne’s progress, deal with any challenges, and plan for her future. Daphne dreams of moving up in her career and eventually saving enough money to go back to school. “This job at Cracker Barrel is a starting point,” she says. “I want to work my way up and maybe go back to school when I’m ready.”

Daphne’s advice to others considering the IPS program is simple: “Go through the program and find someone to support you outside of it, like a friend,” she suggests. “Having someone to lean on makes all the difference.”

Because of the support she received through Monarch’s IPS program and her partnership with Alexis, Daphne found a job she enjoys and is building a foundation for a brighter future.

For more information about Monarch’s IPS services, visit here.

Posted on: Friday July 5, 2024