|August 16, 2011
Mercer Island, Washington
with her Managers
Melissa and Travus
Hoorah for Teresa
By Cheryl D'Ambrosio
Parents just love to
brag about their kids. I am no
exception. I often brag about my two stepdaughters, and all they have
accomplished. My youngest, now
age 29, is now an architect just like her dad Tony. My oldest, Teresa, now age 32 is about to
celebrate something we never dreamed of.
Our local Starbucks, affectionately known as The Mercer
Island Drive Thru, has employed Teresa for the past ten years as their Lobby Busser. They have provided her with an opportunity to
showcase her skills. When I'm there sipping a cocoa cappuccino, I can watch her
keep the lobby, excuse me Her Lobby
beautiful. She wipes up spills, refills
the condiment bar, picks up trash, checks the bathrooms, and sweeps the outside
patio, just to name a few of the 30 or so things she does during her 2 ½ hour shift.
If I thought you had the time, I would tell you all of the
things on her "To Do list", because, in fact, I have written them down. I have to put them on paper, but Teresa has
memorized them. Over the years, Teresa,
her Dad and I have met with her Mainstay(1) job coaches and her Starbucks managers. Whatever she does to keep the store clean,
the Baristas won't need to do. That
translates to more beverages and happier customers.
For Teresa, being a Lobby Busser at Starbucks, has become
her life's calling. She proudly wears
the Starbucks uniform and matching jacket five days each week. After all, this is Her Store. It's been Her Store for ten years. She has seen many
baristas and managers come and go over the years. She is like an Aunt who greets them on their
first day and hopes they will at least say "goodbye" when they leave. She greets customers, new ones and returning
ones. She worries when the refuse truck
didn't arrive making the garbage pile up.
She wonders what new merchandise will arrive and what new drinks will be
introduced with each holiday season -- in the same way she used to wonder what
she would get for Christmas. Sleepless nights, and all. Yes, like any business owner, she brings her
work home with her.
What most people probably don't know is that Teresa was born
with a rare bleeding disorder that wasn't diagnosed correctly until it was
almost too late. Because girls aren't
supposed to have bleeding disorders (according to most medical books), when Teresa
was a few weeks old, the doctors saw her high fever and twitching eyes and initially
misdiagnosed her with meningitis. While she
continued to bleed inside her head, had it not been for the Hemophilia Care
Program(2) at the Puget Sound
Blood Center including Dr. Richard Counts, Dr. Arthur Thompson and Maribel
Johnson RN, she would have died. They
correctly diagnosed Teresa as having severe factor V deficiency (a rare
bleeding disorder) and she improved immediately after receiving transfusions of
fresh frozen plasma. Emergency brain
surgery was required to remove the clot that had formed in her head. That surgery that also removed part of her
brain, changed her life forever.
What you see each day when she comes to work at Starbucks is
a one in a million woman with a severe and rare bleeding disorder, who also has
intermittent seizures. But, she beat the
odds and survived. (3) (4)
Through her young years, her life was full of supportive
people through school vocational programs, family events and community
activities. Once she turned 21,
opportunities for activities outside the home and meaningful employment came to
a screeching halt. Her dad and I have worked
through agencies, many with limited funding and resources, to advocate for her well
being and employment. And then, ten
years ago, our local Starbucks manager stepped up to bat and hired her.
Teresa's 10 Year Celebration with Starbucks Management Team
Which brings us to August 16, 2011 where Teresa's managers, Travus and Melissa along with District Manager, Paulie, have invited us to celebrate Teresa's tenth year at Starbucks. We still have our photo of her fifth year
Anniversary celebration at this store (it was our holiday card photos). It was snapped before the new store was
built. We remember the old store. It was before all the new condos popped
up. We remember so many of the baristas,
and all of her wonderful managers. There
have been so many fabulous customers, over the years. Hoorah for the Puget Sound Blood Center. Hoorah for Mainstay. Hoorah
But most of all, Hoorah for Teresa.
(1) Mainstay, a career resource and
supported employment program, was established in 1980 in partnership with Seattle Central Community College. Mainstay supports the community and business
by matching individuals with varied capabilities and backgrounds to employers'
Hemophilia Care Program of the Puget
Sound Blood Center helps people with hemophilia obtain early, effective
treatment and acquire skills that foster independence and minimize the acute
and chronic complications of hemophilia.
and Maria's life and their rare bleeding disorder is chronicled in the book, Pooling Blood available through Amazon.com.
(4) For more information about girls and
women with bleeding disorders, please see the website for MyGirlsBlood at: www.mygirlsblood.org