“To be successful at job development, an Employment Specialist must be able to use skills and experience as well as, have a creative imagination. They must be able to imagine individuals who may not appear to have the capability to perform certain tasks completing those tasks,” said TVS Program Director Carla Hill. “This is Katie’s gift.”
After 8 years at TVS and a lifetime of working for adults with disabilities, Katie Pace has retired! “Katie accepts individuals where they are and gently guided them to where they wanted to be,” reflected Carla. “She never wants to give up; always asking herself, what can be done to help make this person successful.” Katie is described by coworkers as selfless, humble, loving and accepting.
“The best part of the job has been watching people grow from a ‘child-like’ place to having adult conversations. All because they are being treated as an adult in their professional setting,” said Katie. “I love being able to be a part of their development and growth.”
Her career began in Tucson, Arizona working with adults on Medicaid while pursuing a nursing degree. “This job made me realize that this is what I wanted to do with my life,” reflects Katie. “I changed my major from nursing and didn’t look back!”
Shortly after moving to Brevard in 1987, Katie met a neighbor who worked at TVS. “She talked to me about TVS and what they were doing for adults with disabilities, I thought, ‘I don’t care what the job is, I want to work there.’” Later that year, Katie began her TVS career as a production worker building boxes for DuPont before working in the cafeteria and filling in gaps with one-on-one services after an unexpected death of a fellow employee.
“It was God intervening,” she said. “From buying the home on Cedar Mountain, having a neighbor who worked in the field of my gift, being able to help when a tragedy hit, and finally being pushed to gain my degree.”
In 1989, Katie left TVS to complete her degree in Special Education with a specialization in Learning Disabilities from Western Carolina University. During this time, Katie worked for different group homes around the area to best accommodate the school-work schedules. It was during her education that Katie, “fell in love with the younger generation through teaching.”
She completed her degree and taught in local elementaries schools for three years before opening her own company, Plans For Life. “Plans For Life became one of the best case-management agencies in North Carolina,” said Carla. “I think Katie would say that the most rewarding part was making things better for the individuals she supported.”
Unfortunately, case-management, that had been privatized was moved back to the state operated LME/MCO system and Katie had to close the doors. “We had a group home, direct care services, 300 plus clients, and 40 employees that served Transylvania, Asheville, and Hendersonville,” reflected Katie.
In 2014, she returned to TVS. “TVS was meant to be a part of my life,” she said. “I am so glad that God made TVS such a big part of my world and for its ability to enhance the lives of people who need a helping hand and support. I never want to see the mission change.”
As an Employment Specialist at TVS, Katie would go out and find employment opportunities for individuals, educate the client about the job, help with the interview, and with any monetary needs to get the individuals into work.
“Katie came into my life at the end of my senior year in high school. She was instrumental in her guidance and encouragement to apply for the position I currently have here at TVS,” said TVS Life Skills Direct Support Professional (DSP) Maddy Shannon. “It was the best decision, and it is thanks to her support and encouragement.”
On a final note, Katie said, “You really have to care and respect the people you are working with and for, that’s what makes all the difference in the lives we touch.”