Erika Gutierrez is soft spoken, but her ambition speaks volumes. “My goal is to be a fashion designer. I like dresses, high heels and jewelry,” said Erica.
Erika is a member of The Arc’s Community Links Program, offering individuals the opportunity to maximize their employment potential in an integrated work setting. Ongoing community outreach provides customized employment choices, volunteer opportunities and on-site facilitators to ensure all individuals receive the support they need to succeed.
Erika came to The Arc in 2015 as a very shy and quiet individual. “Ericka has blossomed into a vibrant flower,” said Community Links Coordinator Eugenia Ebb. “It wasn’t until her friends (the ladies in her Community Links group) made her feel welcome and loved. For the first couple of weeks Ericka would to sit by herself and not speak to anyone but today she is confident, happy and loves to express herself.”
A native of El Salvador Erika speaks both Spanish and English and often stands in as a translator. “I speak Spanish at home,” said Erika. “I’m from El Salvador and I’m going back to visit in December.”
One of the things Erika plans to bring with her on her trip is her notebook. “I have a notebook at home where I draw my designs. I draw dresses and skirts and outfits there,” said Ericka. “I want to get a job where I can work in fashion and help people find the best outfits. Then they can become my clients.”
Currently, Erika’s Community Links team is working fashion retail on job placements for Erika to get her closer to her goals.