Staff Highlight: Anne Kooy

Anne Kooy, Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Anne is an Independent Living Specialist at Disability Network Southwest Michigan. Here is what she has to say about her passion for the work she does.

I find great pleasure in observing someone who has joyfully discovered that, “I can do this all by myself.” At Disability Network Southwest Michigan, I work alongside individuals to meet their own goals for independence. My original career choice found me working as a Montessori teacher. Montessori is an alternative education methodology, cross cultural and diverse, with a goal for self-empowerment and greater independence. My work there helped me to hone my observation skills and meet people where they are, as they are. It also taught me to allow an individual room for fostering and allowing self-discovery. Perfect training for working with persons with disabilities!

Personally, my life was touched by disability through my own health experiences, family health issues, relationships I’ve built with people I worked with in foster care homes and the camp I volunteer at for people with traumatic brain injuries. I know how difficult it can be to find answers, advocate, and ask for accommodations. In the role of Independent Living Specialist, I get to work alongside amazing individuals: youth transitioning out of high school who are pursuing their “next step” life goals and adults who are endeavoring to find employment. I can empathize with many of my customer’s obstacles and the strength they display as they meet those obstacles and overcome them. I am working at being a better listener. Since working here, I have had the opportunity to learn about the history of our culture concerning treatment of persons with disabilities and what laws provide for us. I have also learned about our community’s resources, which are constantly changing. Being knowledgeable about what’s available is important for my customers so that, when they desire, I can assist them with accessing them. It is challenging work but so satisfying.