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Healthy Living: Disability Employment Awareness Month

Cassie Gibbs loves working at Cassie’s Place
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 1:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Cassie Gibbs loves her job.

“Happy Tuesday,” she said with excitement as she rang up a customer.

With her mom, Kimberly Fitzgerald right alongside her, she asked Gibbs what her favorite thing was about work. Gibbs touched the cash register on both sides, referencing it was her favorite thing.

So much so, the coffee shop where she works is named after her. It’s called Cassie’s Place. It’s run by her mom, who is also the barista and with the help of her job coach Renee Bean, Gibbs is in charge of taking orders.

“I actually never thought that she’d be able to run a cash register,” Fitzgerald said.

But, Gibbs is and Fitzgerald credits a lot of that to The Arc of Anchorage, an organization that helps support and employ Alaskans who experience disabilities.

“I don’t even know how I would have gotten by without The Arc, I really don’t. I mean they’ve been just embracing; they get Cassie, it’s just been a beautiful thing,” Fitzgerald said.

The Arc of Anchorage was founded more than 60 years ago by parents who believed their children deserved more. Parents like Fitzgerald who say working provides Gibbs with a sense of purpose and pride. Not to mention the joy she brings to others.

“The driving force is coming to a place where she feels wanted, needed and feels like making a difference,” Fitzgerald said.

“Working with people with disabilities makes you humble, very, very humble, makes you realize and be thankful for everything that you got and just makes it happy,” Bean added.

Gibbs’ been with The Arc of Anchorage for 13 years and worked in several departments, but, for now, it’s at her place where you’ll find her doing what she loves.

Fitzgerald said the goal is to open a second location and use it as a training site for others with disabilities.

Click here to learn more about The Arc of Anchorage.

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