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CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Shannon Roberts values opportunity to work
By Melanie Mowry Etters
Coming to work with a smile on her face is a priority for Shannon Roberts.
She has been greeting the public and fellow employees with her friendly face for more than a year while serving as the afternoon receptionist and administrative assistant for the Northwest Regional Office of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) in Tallahassee.
“There is always something new to learn each day," Roberts said. "I love learning new things. It keeps you educated.”
In addition to working for APD, Roberts receives services from the agency, too. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting the workplace achievements of people with developmental disabilities.
Roberts was born with Williams syndrome in Jacksonville’s Baptist Hospital in 1985. People born with this genetic condition typically have heart problems and developmental disabilities. She was adopted at six months old by her parents, Marty and Kathy Roberts. When she was a freshman in high school, her father’s insurance job transferred the family to Tallahassee. Roberts graduated with a special diploma from Lawton Chiles High School.
After high school, Roberts worked at her father’s insurance office one day a week doing administrative duties. This experience helped her develop marketable job skills.
In 2013, Roberts attended a meeting at APD talking about employment. When APD Director Barbara Palmer was speaking, Roberts raised her hand and said, “I want a job.” Palmer committed to help Roberts find work.
In January 2014, the APD Northwest Regional Operations Manager Lynne Daw hired Roberts to provide administrative support to their regional office. Daw said, “Shannon comes to the office with a smile on her face and excited about work. She is the face of APD. She greets people cheerfully and directs them to the right staff members for assistance. She is very capable at meeting our office’s needs”
Going from working one day to five days a week was a challenge for Roberts. “It was tough at first getting into a new routine. Now I have a routine every day at APD. It is good. It keeps me busy.” Roberts also likes being productive with her time—not staying home and watching television. She also enjoys dressing professionally to come to work.
Roberts schedules and pays for transportation to and from work each day using Big Bend Transit. She also uses her pay check for movies, shopping, and even spa treatments. One of her favorite activities is going out to a restaurant, especially to enjoy Italian food.
Some future goals for Roberts are increasing her work hours and moving out of her parent’s home. She hopes to find a roommate to make having her own home more affordable.
In the meantime, Roberts values the opportunity to work. “I love office work. I like all my coworkers. They are very nice. I come into work with a smile and want to do a good job each day,” Roberts said.
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).