YMCA job fulfills lifelong desire to work with children

Chelsea Greene has wanted to work with children since the fifth grade, and ProAct has helped fulfill that desire with placement and support for a new day care job at the Eagan YMCA.

“When they had an opportunity for a teaching assistant, Chelsea and her interests really fit the bill,” said employment specialist Nick VanderVegte.

He went with Greene to meet with child care managers who liked her personality and knew she would be a good fit to work with the children. “This was sort of a match made in heaven from that point.”

Greene cares for infants at the Eagan YMCA from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Her foundation at ProAct spans some 15 years, working on crews at Anagram, Rapala and H. Brooks, as well as taking life skills classes in Eagan and making friends.

Finding a job isn’t an instantaneous process. The employment specialist and participant worked together for about a year. She had a handful of interviews, at places including Party City and Walmart. All were helpful practice for Greene’s interviewing skills.

Once hired, in-house training was supplemented by online videos to help Greene acquire the knowledge she needed to fill the role. “They’ve given Chelsea great instruction and room to grow,” said VanderVegte.

The new staff member thrives on the independence the job provides. She said she wants to live on her own someday and likes to talk about it.


Not long after being hired, the Y added an extra hour per day to her work schedule. VanderVegte said child care employees often start with the infants and move up the age range to toddlers and other children.

Greene takes Lyft to work, which has been timely. She receives monthly visits from ProAct to check on her progress.

“To have a corporate partner like the YMCA that’s committed to diversifying their workforce, I think that’s one of the most important things about it,” said VanderVegte.

Greene encourages others with disabilities to check out employment options. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” she said. “And, have a good employment specialist.”

VanderVegte made many job placements in the last quarter and found some common themes with all of them. “They maintained a positive attitude throughout their search, kept their chin up the whole time and didn’t let rejection get them down,” he said.