Getting to work, despite limitations

Daisy Guista may have some physical limitations but she excels in the workplace and, like the rest of us, she likes the freedom that earning her own money provides.

“I’m a workaholic,” Guista said recently, in-between manning the phone lines at Feroleto Children’s Development Center in Trumbull, part of St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services.

Guista is part of the SVSNS adult work training program in Stratford and was called upon for some real world experience when the children’s center receptionist went on vacation. Guista filled in for a week, answering phones and taking care of receptionist work at the front desk.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity for her to gain some experience” Chris Howard of SVSNS said. “The hope is we can find her a job in the community.”

The State of Connecticut has a program “real work for real pay” that is run by the Department of Development Services, Howard explained. Through this program, persons with disabilities are encouraged to seek employment in the community and businesses are encouraged to considering hiring individuals with disabilities. Some advantages to the individuals include:

• Working in the community helps people overcome isolation. It creates opportunities for friendships and recreation, and promotes full inclusion.

• Work provides an opportunity for someone to learn new things and to develop skills and competencies, improving his or her overall level of functioning.

• Work promotes self-esteem and confidence.

• Real citizenship involves a meaningful connection to the social, political, and economic fabric of society.

The SVSNS work program has been around for years, according to Joan Lydem, a job coach working with Guista. Clients are trained in office work, custodial work, laundry services and more. It allows for independence and can be a big benefit to employees who are receiving dependable and qualified employees, as well as qualifying for tax incentives and credits. The program also works with employers to provide support, supervision and additional training of special needs employees, if needed.

“Individuals with disabilities can add a lot to a work force — they have a lot of value,” Howard said.

And, said Howard, there are always ways to make it work, despite any limitations. Guista’s wheelchair didn’t fit behind the desk at the children’s center, so the employees attached a desk to her chair and made it work.

Lydem, who describes Guista as dependable and very conscientious of her quality of work, is looking to place her in a new job. If interested, please called Lydem at 203-385-7444 or emailing You can also learn more by visiting