Maria Chanocua came to work for Relay Resources in the summer of 2016. “It was the opportunity to gain self-confidence,” she says. “Knowing that I can do what I like, which is work, learn and assist others.”
Maria was born with Albinism, a disorder that affects skin pigment and has also impaired her vision. She withdrew from community college when the reading overwhelmed her and struggled to find work. Maria has always loved helping people. When she eventually returned to school she pursued Business Office Administration, hoping to one day earn the opportunity for a meaningful job and a livable wage. Maria says it took her a while to complete the coursework because of her vision, but her family was always supportive—her mother especially. “You need to open more doors. You can’t just give up on things,” she says, recalling her mother’s encouragement. “And I’m thankful for that.”
Maria is a hard worker and dedicated employee. When she came to Relay Resources, she was interviewed, hired, and trained for a job that would suit her strengths. That job was at the reception desk, helping guests who are in need of employment or housing. It’s a role that challenges her to learn, adapt, and work with new people every day. “We recognized Maria’s potential and ambition, and knew she’d excel at helping people apply for jobs or housing,” says Amy Julkowsi, Maria’s supervisor. And, as Maria says, it’s the job she’s always wanted. “It gives me the opportunity to work and learn at the same time. Every day is a learning process. It’s a challenge, because of my vision, but it’s worth it.”
Maria’s strength of will and positive outlook have helped her to overcome challenges and become a valuable member of her team. And the confidence at work that Maria mentioned has translated to confidence in life. In the past, many people have perceived Maria’s visual impairment as a disability but, she says, “now, I feel like it doesn’t matter.”
Looking to the future, Maria has high hopes for an ongoing career at Relay Resources. She says, “I just hope that—whatever position I’m in—that I still have that same feeling, where I know I’m assisting others, and that I’m doing good.”
Learn more about careers at Relay Resources.