Work Ethic Proves Key to Success for Person Supported by Forsyth IPS Team

Employment Support Professional Charles Absher stands with person supported Brenda Lewis

At left, Monarch Employment Support Professional (ESP) Charles Absher meets regularly with Brenda Lewis to provide employment support.

Healing from a mental health diagnosis of schizophrenia can often present obstacles, but Benda Lewis didn’t let any of them stop her searching for a job that fit her skills. She knows the value of hard work and what an employer looks for when hiring.

Lewis tried to maintain her focus on showcasing her positive attributes and being confident an employer would give her a chance.

She found that employer in her current job with Bojangles, the fast-food restaurant founded in Charlotte. Today, she is a restaurant associate working at the Country Club Road Bojangles location in Winston-Salem, as well as thriving, happy and healthy.

A widow and mother to five children, life has not always traveled an easy road for Lewis. She is currently a resident of a Forsyth County group home and receives help through Monarch’s Individual Placement and Support and Supported Employment (IPS-SE) services.

In 2019, Lewis was attending a psycho-social rehabilitation (PSR) program, a service that supports people in learning more about their mental illnesses, when she inquired about help with finding a job. She was introduced to Monarch’s services and was paired with Employment Support Professional (ESP) Charles “Roger” Absher, who serves with Monarch’s IPS-SE team in Forsyth County. IPS is Monarch’s person-centered, behavioral health service with a focus on employment.

Since first being paired, Absher says Lewis has grown in many areas that he knows she didn’t believe were possible. Together, prior to securing her current Bojangles position, Absher and Lewis worked on how to search for a job as well as strengthening interview and job skills. They still meet today with the focus on navigating workplace skills needed to maintain a job.

Initially, Lewis wanted to find a job in janitorial services where she felt most comfortable and had worked previously. Absher, who has been with Monarch since 2014, helped her throughout each step of searching for a job and even joined her on interviews when she asked for additional support. “We did interview practice, how to introduce yourself and how to sell yourself,” Absher explains.

In November of 2020, she received the job offer from Bojangles and initially began washing dishes and cleaning. Lewis, 60, has since shown her impeccable work ethic and now works directly in the kitchen preparing food. “I liked that very much because I know I can do it. They always give me something else to do. I enjoy cooking and it is my favorite part of the job,” Lewis shares, adding that she has not missed a day of work with her current employer.

“She makes me proud that she went in and has been able to learn the job and learn so many other skills through her job. I didn’t know how far Brenda could take this job but she has really proven to me that she is capable of doing lots of things,” Absher says.

Absher assured Lewis, who began to get nervous and unsure of herself at certain times during the job search, that if they put in the work she would secure employment. He was right. “I enjoy working with Roger because he has helped me along the way. I admire Roger and he is a good job coach,” remarks Lewis.

Lewis’ works three days per week at her Bojangles job and also attends Monarch’s Unity Center PSR in Winston-Salem. For more information, visit here for details and contact information about Monarch’s IPS-SE program.

Posted on: Wednesday January 26, 2022