Busy, busy: With a four-day-a-week job, a regular volunteering gig, volleyball, bingo, theater, and more, this developmentally delayed young lady is never bored, and always determined.
Courtney Raible (seated) with ARC team leader Melissa Falsetti
“I’m a happy person,” says Courtney Raible. “I feel happy about my life.” And what a full life it is. With a job she loves, a comfortable home she shares with five friends, a caring family, and an array of social, academic, and recreational activities in which she is involved, Courtney is one busy young woman.
“She is a success,” says Melissa Falsetti, team leader at Franklin Square, Rockland ARC’s Post High School campus in Pearl River. “She impresses everyone with her zest for life.”
Among Courtney’s many admirers are her parents, Kathy and Cornelius Raible of Suffern. No matter what the task at hand, no matter how difficult the challenge, “Courtney never gives up,” Kathy Raible says.
At 28, Courtney is the oldest of three siblings. She has two brothers, Sean and Michael.
Early Warning Signs
Although Courtney was delayed in meeting infant milestones, her pediatrician was not concerned. “But as a mother, you kind of know when something is not quite right,” Raible recalls. “When Courtney didn’t walk until close to 18 months, the doctor said we should have her checked by a pediatric neurologist. He told us that she has a developmental disability and would probably function a few years behind other children her age.
“At first we were frightened. It was hard to accept. But you’ve got to make the best of it,” she says.
The Raibles made a concerted effort to foster independence in their daughter. “We protected her, but we did not baby her. We wanted her to realize that she can do things on her own, and she picked up on that,” Raible says. “Even today, if we tell her, ‘Courtney, you can do this,’ she will try. She may not always succeed, but she will try.”
Throughout their daughter’s elementary and high school years, the Raibles advocated untiringly to make sure Courtney received appropriate educational placement and physical and speech therapies on a regular basis. The senior Ms. Raible says that her daughter was fortunate to have some exceptional teachers. Courtney graduated from Spring Valley High School in June 2007, and in July of that year, she enrolled in Franklin Square. She moved to an ARC community residence in Garnerville in 2009.
Beyond High School
“She loves her housemates and the residential staff,” her mother says. “It’s a warm environment. The women help one another and care about one another. She likes to come to our home on holidays and some weekends, but she is happy to have her own place.”
Since 2009, Courtney has been working four days a week at Wendy’s in Tappan, a position she obtained through ARC Career Services. “Courtney is the ambassador of the dining room,” says general manager Kelly Dunn. “She keeps the dining room in tip-top shape through our lunch hour. She is fantastic. A lot of regulars come in during the day, and she has good relationships with them. Courtney comes to work, she knows what she has to do, and she does it.”
Initially, an ARC job coach worked with Courtney every day until she became confident in her job, says Theresa Dos Santos, ARC assistant director of Supported Employment. “Today, a job coach visits twice a month to make sure all is going smoothly.”
On Tuesdays, the one day during the week when Courtney is not working, she attends classes and participates in activities through ARC’s Franklin Square. She volunteers with Meals on Wheels, shops for people who are homebound, and takes part in academic and social opportunities. When time allows, she joins her peers at Franklin Square in taking classes offered by The Successful Learning Center on the grounds of Dominican College. “I like the cooking classes and the classes in money management,” Courtney says.
Through ARC Recreation, Courtney is involved in a wide range of activities including basketball, volleyball, and bowling. She attends dances, plays bingo, and performs with the ARC Drama Club.
“The people at ARC of Rockland have done wonders for Courtney,” Raible says.
This article was reprinted with permission from ARCLIGHT Magazine.