[Vision2020] Pullman Woman with Down Sydrome Wins Statewide Employee of the Year

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Tue Dec 1 05:49:43 PST 2009

Courtesy of today's (December 1, 2009) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with
thanks to Tara Roberts and a high-five to Rachel Sherman.


Pullman woman with Down syndrome wins statewide employee of the year award

By Tara Roberts Daily News staff writer
December 1, 2009

Rachel Sherman grabbed a warm towel from the pile by the dryer in the
laundry room of Pullman's Holiday Inn Express. She gave it a sharp shake,
then folded it into a square in a few smooth motions.

She plopped it on top of a stack, counted the towels and delivered the
stack to a cart, ready to be distributed to the people who stay in the
hotel. She snagged another towel from the pile, spinning once to a country
tune on the radio before going back to folding.

Rachel grinned when someone mentioned she's good at her job.

"Yeah, I know," she said.

Rachel, 23, has reason to be confident. She recently was named 2009
Employee of the Year by the Washington Hotel and Lodging Association.

Rachel was born with Down syndrome, but the statewide award is not
specifically for people with disabilities.

"Rachel is just one of those people who ... is such an inspiration, and so
easygoing," said Holiday Inn general manager Meghan Wiley, who nominated
Rachel for the award and won a state managers' award herself. "Among all
that, she's reliable, she always shows up, she does what we ask of her and
only talks back once in a while."

Rachel was quick to agree she loves her job.

"I fold towels. I have fun," she said.

She enjoys spending time with her coworkers, including Washington State
University students working their way through school and an autistic boy
from Pullman High School who shadows her once a week.

"She's just fun to work with," said WSU student Kelli Cooper, who has
known Rachel for two years. "She goofs around, and she dances to the music
on the radio."

Friends and music are two of Rachel's favorite parts of the job - "I get
my boogie on," she said - but she's not a fan of the ear-splitting beeping
of the dryers or the occasional gross stain.

When she found a blemished bath mat on a recent workday, she threw it into
the "bad" pile in disgust.

"It was a horrible stain. Ugh," she said.

Rachel's mother, Debbie Sherman, said many people worked together for
years to make Rachel's success possible.

Rachel began working for the Holiday Inn three and a half years ago as
part of a life-skills class at Pullman High School. Debbie said the hotel
was "willing to make an effort to see if someone with a disability would
fit into their system."

Rachel found her fit at the towel-folding station after being grossed out
by toilets and, at 4 feet, 6 inches, too short to run the sheet folder.

Wiley said Rachel went through the usual application process for a
part-time job when she graduated, and the hotel hired her.

Debbie said she and her husband, John, hope their daughter will work for
the Holiday Inn as long as possible.

"You hope it will last for years to come," Debbie said.

Rachel was born in Pullman, and Debbie said her family hopes to find her a
supported living arrangement in town so she can move out on her own as she
continues to work.

Rachel wants to keep up her job because it pays for her favorite pastime -
watching Cougar sports. When Debbie asked Rachel to explain who buys the
tickets to the games she attends almost weekly, Rachel pointed to herself
with pride.

"That'd be me."

Rachel lamented the Cougars' recent loss to the Oregon State Beavers and
spoke excitedly about her favorite basketball players, "Jazmine!" and
"Thompson!" - guards Jazmine Perkins and Klay Thompson.

Debbie said Rachel gets excited at the games and is known to shout a few
taunts at the referees.

"I call them zebra," Rachel said with a smile.


Rachel signals to a co-worker as she fold towels.



Thaks again, Tara.

Well done, Rachel.

Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Unknown

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list