VOHC’s Shonda Bridges Brings Her Enthusiasm to Day Care Role
Raeford day care owner and director Cynthia Cockerham-Wright proudly described Shonda Bridges as a phoenix, because she rises to the top and is an exemplary member of her staff.
Bridges works three days a week at Cockerham-Wright’s Creative Childrens Corner day care, a center caring for 37 children ranging in age from three months to 10 years old. She also attends Vocational Options of Hoke County (VOHC), a Monarch day program offering services and programs to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
Last summer, Bridges, 47, began her job search in earnest with the help of Daisy Smith, QPBA, QDDP, Program Manager-Supported Employment / Sandhills at VOHC, who assists day program attendees in finding employment opportunities.
Smith reached out to Cockerham-Wright, aligning with Bridges’ career goal to work with children. Bridges completed each step of the hiring process with flying colors: filling out the application, meeting for an in-person interview, as well as passing required background checks. Bridges noted that she studied for and passed courses including first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation in order to begin working safely with children.
Last August, Bridges started her new role as a classroom assistant at the day care center once a week. Cockerham-Wright thought Bridges was doing so well, she asked her to increase to three days a week. Bridges obliged and works alongside the classroom teacher with the two- and three-year-old toddlers reading to the children, assisting with meal times and playing one-on-one with them to promote manipulative skills.
“Shonda dives right in. You don’t have to tell her what to do or if you direct her, it’s one time and she completes the task. She is self-initiated and so pleasant to everyone,” Cockerham-Wright described Bridges, while also praising her punctuality, attention and accuracy in listening to directives and compassionate care of the children.
Support Coordinator Pauline McGuire said the difference in Bridges, who has attended VOHC for 24 years, since she has been working is evident: “Shonda now shows confidence and was so happy when she moved up to working three days . . . She walks around with such pride. Overall, she shows more independence and is able to make her own purchases within the community.”
Bridges stated she enjoyed having a job that affords her the opportunity to shop for new clothes and visit the hair salon, but above all, loves working with the children. “I make their boo-boos feel better,” she said with a giggle. “I go outside and play games with them and clean them up.”
Cockerham-Wright encouraged business owners to embrace inclusive hiring. “Everybody has something. Nobody is perfect whether it is a disability you are born with or one that is acquired,” she noted. “I think employment helps build character and confidence. Shonda has brought a bright light to our day care center.”
Photo caption: Shonda Bridges at Vocational Options of Hoke County.