Just like the first day of school, when the new class at LilyWorks Food Service in Waukesha kicked off the job training program for people with disabilities, most were a bit shy. 

Except for Megan, she jumped right in to the United Way-funded program at Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin.

Before enrolling in the program, Megan worked at a Naval Base in Chicago where she first fell in love with cooking. She returned home to Wisconsin to be closer to her family, but soon realized she would need to master her skills in order to secure a new job in food service.

LilyWorks, a three-month paid training program, is a combination of classroom learning and hands-on training in the kitchen.

One of the first things Megan learned to perfect through the program was a recipe for Pico de Gallo.

“First you start with cutting up the tomato, then add the onion and some peppers,” said Megan.

“What I love about my job at United Way, is we get to connect great people like Megan to great organizations like Easter Seals so that she can gain experience she needs to secure a job in our community,” said Shannon Reed, Financial Stability Portfolio Manager at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

Today, Megan works as a cook at Waukesha West High School. 

“On a typical day I prep, I serve the students, wipe the tables and I set up the line and help break down the line,” Megan said. “It’s very exciting.” Megan said.

“The people we serve have some challenges so it takes a little while to find the right employer with a workplace culture that is accepting of difference,” said Bob Glowacki, CEO/President of Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin. “United Way is critical funding to help us move through that period until we can find people like Megan a job she loves.”

Last year, 80% of participants enrolled in the United Way-funded Easter Seals Supported Employment program learned new job skills, and 100% of participants identified personal goals for employment.

“One of the best parts about Megan securing a job she loves is dignity,” said Reed. “When individuals give to United Way’s Community Fund we can ensure we help that next Megan become a change agent in her community.”

“Being a part of this program has been a great experience,” said Megan. “It felt really good that I accomplished something.”

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© 2020 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.