Andrea Sledge started working for UCP of Greater Birmingham on October 13, 1992. She worked initially in our day program as first a “Habilitation Assistant” and the moved up to a classroom supervisor. Andrea stated that there were only about 25 people in the day program at the time, and only 3 people in wheelchairs when she first started. Due to ADA, a few years after she started, the Day Program then started bringing in younger individuals who had been forced to live in nursing homes. Individuals from Partlow and Bryce also started being admitted, all due to ADA and the least restrictive environment regulations.
Andrea came to Employment Services in 2010 after 18 years of working in the Day Program. Since that time she has placed over 100 clients into competitive Employment since being in this department. She also has specialized in working with individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries and for a while, she worked under a grant that enabled us to create “Customized Jobs” with businesses in the community. Andrea has created many long-term business relationships for our program. Her expertise has proven to be invaluable.
Andrea has been a great employee to United Ability. However, she is so much more than that. Andrea is a good person, she would give you the shirt off of her back if you needed it. She is also a mother, and it is clear, every day how much she loves her son, Jack, and her husband, Henry. She has spent the last 28 years assisting individuals with disabilities to become more independent. Andrea has many long term clients who she still personally calls to check in on, it has always been inspiring to me to see how she treats her clients like they are her family.
Some kind words from her co-workers:
Becky Lyle: “Not only does Andrea go out of her way for her co-workers but she truly has loved all of her clients and makes sure to take great care of their needs. I have job coached alongside Andrea many times and have been impressed by her patience, ability to adapt, and her professionalism.
Rebecca Pilgreen: “I roomed with Andrea at APSE and she is a good time!! She also always made me feel so welcomed and would check in on me to make sure I was doing okay. For tours, she was always willing to help cover or connect us with a contact. She will be missed!!”
Danielle Knoblock: “Andrea, although I never got to work with you in person I did learn a lot from you in the short time I have been here. The main thing I learned is how valuable you are as a team member and friend to those around you. By you being at United Ability for 28 years and the love you show for the organization it really inspired me to strive to be more like you during the duration of my time here. Thank you for helping shape United Ability into such an amazing place to work!”
Ashley Parsons: “Andrea is one of the most genuine people I know. She is the type of person that will listen to you and give you great advice. Over the years I have seen her give away her son’s clothes/toys, her clothes, and there was even a time she donated hers and Henry’s bathing suits for United Ability Water Day. That was a fun day!!
Finally, and most importantly, she loves her clients and families. She is always looking for the best fit for each person and never placed someone in a job she didn’t feel they would do well in. I have gone to her office and she has been on the phone with a client and their family up to an hour at times working out every detail to make the client successful. She has made great connections with employers who call on her when a position became available because they knew her commitment to her clients.
She is a huge asset to our department and she will be missed! But we know she won’t be far as she is United Ability family, and she always will be!”
Jennifer Sumner: “I love how much Andrea cares about our clients! She remembers them so well and makes deep connections and often follows up with them on her own. She will be missed!”
Jason Gardner: “Andrea is a heartfelt giver full of understanding, and I have learned so much from her. She inspires me to be a steady force of grace, just like she has been at United Ability all these years. I truly hope she continues to be the bright light she is, because this world needs more bearers of hope like her.”