“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources.” –Luc de Clapiers
When interacting with Barbara Moore, whether it be face to face, across a room, or over a video, the infectious tenacity of her spirit can be felt. She has the spirit of a self-starter, a leader, an advocate, and a champion of her own life.
Barbara says “I’ve always wanted to work” as she describes herself. It’s not a means to an end, or ‘I wanted to work because…’. Barbara associated working with her independent personality. As a child, Barbara’s mother feared she was too independent, but Barbara felt differently. She was always out with the neighborhood kids, and grew into her independence, despite any limitations others set for her. For Barbara, being born with visual impairment meant she lived her life differently than others, and that was her way of life. Later in life, Barbara taught herself how to sew. With limited vision, she could use measurements to build a mental image and bring her work to life. For Barbara, she wasn’t overcoming her visual impairment, she simply did things differently.
As an adult Barbara continued to experience her life, making a family and furthering her skills and passions; but was still utilizing Social Security and Welfare to support herself and her family. Barbara felt this took away from her independence and propelled her into a job search. Barbara tells the story of facing obstacles as business after business was unwilling to accommodate her needs, or unwilling to acknowledge the skills she had to offer. Over time opportunities came and went, but Barbara desired consistency and fulfillment in her work, rather than occasional sewing jobs.
“That was the best day of my life”, Barbara says reflecting on the day Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) offered her a position. “I got a job, a real job,” she tells her mother over the phone. In Barbara’s mind someone finally took a chance on her, but in retrospect, VGS made an easy hire that day. Barbara was self-taught, self-motivated, energetic, and passionate. A spirit like Barbara’s is the rising tide that raises all boats and changes everyone’s experience on the job.
On the floor where Barbara still works 15 years later her co-workers rely on her presence. “She just makes you feel happy.” “She keeps me motivated.” “If it weren’t for her, I would not be here.” Barbara has worked almost every job on the floor, she knows the history of the company, and people look up to her as a leader. The amount of value that Barbara brought to VGS is immeasurable.
Barbara is enormously proud to have a job and to have her independence, and she’s incredibly grateful for the work she does at VGS. She makes trousers for women in the military through an AbilityOne contract. Helping sew these uniforms is Barbara’s way of giving back. “I love what I do,” says Barbara. “I love the company that I work for. I love the products that I make. It’s awesome.”
The human spirit is intangible and mysterious. It makes all of us all unique individuals, and it allows us to know each other on a deeper level than our words or actions can show. Barbara’s spirit allows her to enjoy every day, and bring joy to others. It told her to never give up when no one would give her a chance, and brought her to the place where she belonged. VGS is more than a job to Barbara now. It’s where she goes to give, to receive, and to realize who she truly is.