Participant Spotlight – Monica!

Monica has been participating in our adult programs since we opened in 2016. She has quickly become a great friend to all, as well as a wonderful example to everyone during her GiGiFIT Adult program. Monica even participates in our GiGi’s at Home GiGi’s Kitchen program weekly. We love and appreciate her positivity and kindness, as well as her work ethic. We are honored to share more about the impact Monica has had on others, especially through her job at Cleveland Clinic’s Fairview Hospital. Her mother, Mary Ellen, shares:

During the pandemic, many restaurants and food operations had to shut down, but there were some kitchens that just got busier! The hospitals! Patients have to eat and someone has to wash the dishes!

Monica works for Aramark Corporation in nutrition services in the dishroom of Cleveland Clinic’s Fairview Hospital. When the carts of patient trays come back down to the kitchen after meals, Monica helps sort out the trash and load the dishwasher with the glassware, silverware, and dishes. She also helps with scrubbing the large serving bowls and cooking pots, restocking items on the tray line, and cleaning the kitchen.

There was a high turnover among the employees during the past two years and Monica became one of the more experienced team members in the dish area. When a new employee was hired in June, Monica was asked to come in early to help train the person. A week later, the supervisor asked if Monica could increase her hours from then on. Monica worked about 20 hours per week before that. She now usually works 32 hours a week. In September, Monica had her 3-year anniversary at the job.

This fall Aramark employees received a well-deserved bonus for working through the pandemic. It was Monica’s first bonus. She received the same certificate of recognition as the other employees in the kitchen and it meant a lot to her to be appreciated.

In November 2021, when Northeast Ohio had a rising number of Covid 19 cases and there were many hospital workers becoming ill as well, Governor DeWine asked National Guard troops to help in the hospitals. Monica was very excited the day she came home telling us about training the soldiers to do the dishes!

Last week, when we had the first big snowstorm, many workers were unable to get to their jobs, including some who use the RTA for transportation.  Monica’s supervisor called her to ask if she could come in extra early that day.  Monica happily agreed and got ready early to help out. Her supervisor told me on the phone, “I am so glad. We love Monica. She is a great worker!”


We are proud of the amazing impact all of our friends with Down syndrome have in their workplace, school, community, and at home. Share with us your favorite success story! We would love to feature it on our blog!

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  1. Carol Bell on February 10, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Congratulations! Monica. We have known Monica since she was born and she over all has a friendly outgoing personality. She has been supported to believe in giving a good effort and determination when learning new skills. We are also so glad that she has GIGis as a resource for socialization and learning and building a community of friends. It is wonderful that you”Gigi”,have created new ways of contact thru your online content such as the cooking lessons. Also special thanks to Aramark and the Cleveland Clinic in their open minded hiring. Best to Monica and to Gigi.

  2. Molly Moser on February 15, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Monica, you are a true rockstar!!!! Way to share your awesomeness in all you do!

    • Deborah Armstrong on February 17, 2022 at 6:02 am

      I work for Aramark as well, a cashier in the cafeteria Monica always has a sweet greeting for me when she comes in the cafe and a bit of news as to how things are going in the dish rm. Thanks Monica for always bringing a smile to my face. Thank you for all you do! CONGRATULATIONS

  3. Karen Habegger on April 18, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Hi Monica! I loved reading this article about you – especially because I happened to be in town the day of that first snowstorm. Your mom and I had made lunch plans for that day – and you were going to come, too – but we were also keeping an eye on the weather reports. I was so surprised to wake up that morning and find over 2’ of snow on my car! I called your mom and we agreed to reschedule our lunch for another day. A short time later though, your mom called me back to say that your supervisor had just called to ask if you could come in to work early that day … and you could. Your mom explained that since she was already going to be on road, she could come over and pick me up if I still wanted to go to lunch (and of course I did)! We talked about you during our lunch, and your mom told me all about your job and how happy your supervisor was that you went in early. You are an amazing young lady, Monica, and I’m thankful to call you my friend!

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