Lauren Fragel

  • Employer Success Stories
  • Youth (WIOA)

Michigan Works! was willing to do whatever it would take to help Lauren succeed!

Lauren Fragel enrolled in SEMCA Michigan Works! WIA Youth Program in June of 2004 as a sophomore at Grosse Pointe North High School. While in school, the WIA Youth Program provided Lauren assistance with employability skills and career exploration. The program also helped Lauren to get CPR and First Aid certified and provided exposure to the world of work by placing her into two summer Paid Work Experience (PWE) opportunities. She was paid minimum wage: one in 2005 as a Teacher Aide at a local elementary school, and the other in 2006 as a Clerical Aide at a local library.

After Lauren graduated from high school, she began experiencing obstacles relating to her disabilities that interfered with her transition to becoming an independent adult. Her parents had explained to the program staff that they were concerned about Lauren’s self-esteem, communication, and job search skills. Sonia Acosta, Lauren’s Youth Advocate at the Michigan Works! Highland Park Service Center, was able to make a connection with Lauren. Lauren described to Sonia how desperately she wanted to work and go to school, but was finding it extremely difficult due to her disability. Sonia reassured Lauren and helped her understand that what she was experiencing was completely normal. Lauren was excited to realize that the program was willing to do whatever it took to help her succeed and feel more confident about her future.

Lauren struck Sonia as a very strong-minded individual with her own hopes and dreams of a future where she could be independent. She was very much aware and concerned that her lack of work experience could pose a challenge towards reaching that goal. Sonia inquired as to what Lauren wanted to do with the rest of her life and she replied that she wanted to help others, but she didn’t know just how. She knew she wanted to do something that would allow her to work with others and she was determined not to let her disability get in the way of that.

After several meetings with Lauren, Sonia could see a dramatic difference in her self-confidence. She smiled every time she came in the office. During one of her visits, she completed a career exploration assessment and the results gave her insight into specific ways she could help others. They sat and discussed the possibility of placing her in a Paid Work Experience (PWE) where she could make a difference in the lives of others. Sonia informed Lauren that Michigan Works! would look into finding an employer that would be appropriate for her to work with and would, at the same time, give peace of mind to her parents. Sonia made contact with the Judson Center, a non-profit organization that helps link employers to qualified workers with disabilities to form employment opportunities. Sonia scheduled a meeting with Deborah Moffat to discuss the PWE program and Ms. Moffat was very excited to participate with us on this opportunity for Lauren.

Lauren began her PWE and Sonia visited the Judson Center during the first week to see how everything was going. When Sonia walked in she saw the biggest smile on Lauren’s face. Lauren was busy in the office filing and organizing and she wanted me to meet some of the participants in her program. She hugged Sonia, saying, “I love working at the Judson Center and making a difference in the lives of these people,” (referring to her clients with various challenges). Ms. Moffat was happy, too. After getting to know Lauren, she stated that, “Lauren has been a joy to work with [and] has taken on a multitude of tasks, from filing to cleaning cupboards to providing support to individuals in our supported employment program. She is willing to take on whatever job we ask, adjusts her hours when needed, and always gives her best effort.”

Sonia says, “I truly believe that Lauren is the picture of potential and success, as she sets about proving to others that just because someone may have a disability, the disability does not define a person and render them unable to make a difference towards others.” Lauren loves using her compassion and patience. She worked very hard to parlay her PWE opportunity into unsubsidized employment. Lauren is now employed by the Judson Center, making $11.40 per hour. Michigan Works! would like to wish Lauren continued success with her career.