Shantel’s First Winter Gala 2019

It’s been a while since I shared my last post. That’s because when we are in Arizona, we don’t really go anywhere that I haven’t already shared on my blog. But last week, our beautiful, grown, baby girl, Shantel, attended her very first formal company Winter Gala.

Shantel started a new job a few months ago. She’s working for a wonderful company that helps people who are in financial distress due to high credit card debt. This company was started by two young men in a garage and has now grown to a company employing over 2,000 employees. When Shantel interviewed for this company, I had my doubts that it would work out, because she has been hired at so many other companies who thought they could get the JAWS screen-reader program to work with their company system. So many times we’ve had our hopes up waiting for Shantel to land a job that would be willing to try to find a way for JAWS to work their system, only to have those hopes dashed over and over again.

This company hired Shantel with the promise that they would do everything possible to make JAWS work with their system, and they stayed true to their word. On the first day of work, Shantel was welcomed in the lobby by the Co-Founder of the company, the Vice President, the head of H.R., the head of Training, and the head of the IT department. They all shook Shantel’s hand and thanked her for “allowing them to work with her to get JAWS working with their system, not only so she can work independently at their company, but for all those who are visually impaired that will come after her”. Within a couple of weeks, working together with Shantel, and listening to what she needed to work independently with JAWS, Shantel was able to work on her own in the welcoming department, taking incoming calls bringing on new clients, and working with the clients to ensure all their account numbers were correct etc. We were thrilled for Shantel to get that position because not only is this job full-time (her last job was just 32 hours a week), this job is only 15 minutes from her home as opposed to her last job that was an hour away. We just couldn’t be happier for Shantel and didn’t think anything could be any better than that. But things did just get better. Shantel did such a good job with the welcome calls, she has now been promoted to Client Services and will now earn a dollar more per hour. She is in training for the next two weeks and is loving every minute of it. Then another surprise! The company also has a Winter Gala every year. This year the Gala was held at the Civic Center. It was a very formal event and Shantel was so excited that she could attend, and could have one guest attend with her. Of course she invited her best friend, Jaz, who was equally excited to be able to attend the Gala with Shantel. Jaz arrived at Shantel’s home around 3:00 p.m. and helped Shantel with her hair and make-up before getting ready herself.

I was filled with pride, and cried tears of joy when Jaz sent me pictures throughout the evening.

This is the first picture I received of Shantel standing in the kitchen of her apartment in her beautiful dress.


This is Jaz and Shantel together beside the Christmas Tree at the Gala. I knew Shantel met Jaz in college, but I asked her the other day how they actually met. Shantel told me she was just sitting outside one of her classes waiting to go in and Jaz just came over and sat down and started talking to her. Turned out they both were taking that same class together. Jaz is such a blessing in our lives and we love her as part of our family.

The day after the Gala, I called Shantel to see what she thought of the event. She said “it was really nice and we had a great time, but mom, I never felt so out of place in my whole life”. I asked her why she felt out of place and she said “well, it was just so formal. Like when we sat down to be served dinner, there were forks everywhere and I didn’t know which fork I was supposed to use”. I said, your supposed to start with the one farthest away from your plate and work your way in. She said “mom, there were forks on the side of the plate, forks at the top of the plate and just forks everywhere, so I just grabbed the first fork I found and started eating.” That’s our girl!

Then Shantel told me the Gala had different things going on in different areas. She said they walked outside on the patio and at first all they heard was someone screaming at the top of their voice. She said they didn’t know what was going on at first, then they found out it was Karaoke and someone was performing hard rock music. She said “I didn’t know Karaoke could be so entertaining”.

When I sent Jaz a thank-you note for sharing the pictures of the eventing, I asked her if she had a good time too. She said she had a great time and even managed to get Shantel out on the dance floor to dance. Apparently gift cards were being randomly given to folks that were dancing. And speaking of gifts, the company had really nice door prizes they were giving away as well. Unfortunately, one of the employees had her purse stolen when she got up to dance. The President of the company got up and addressed all the employees saying their company is based on honesty and integrity, and that someone in that room was not being honest by stealing. He then presented the lady that had her purse stolen, and her guest, with one of the door prizes which was two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States, and he apologized for what happened to her. What a great company to work for. Shantel also told me the President sends out a company wide email every Monday welcoming the employees back from the weekend and wishing them a great work week. Who could ask for anything better than that?

This week when we visited Shantel, she asked me if I would take this picture of her, Jaz, and Danny. Danny is a girl that trained Shantel in the Welcome Calls Department. Apparently a photo booth was also part of the Gala event, so the three girls had their picture taken together. Shantel asked me if I would put it it a frame, so I put it in this adorable frame Shantel made for me when she was in grade school. Every time I would leave the house to go to work, or anywhere, Shantel would hug me and say “don’t forget me” like I could ever forget my precious baby girl…

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