When Laura Bancroft first began working at NW Works in May, it was more like a reunion rather than a new job. As a former Shenandoah Valley Community Residence employee, Laura was once again working with clients she worked closely with years prior.
“It was the fun part of coming to NW works, I got to see so many familiar faces. I loved being able to connect with them again,” she said.
A Winchester native, Laura attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where she majored in Media Writing and Literature. She says she had always planned on being a journalist, but after graduating in 2015, Laura took a summer job that changed her trajectory in life.
A few friends suggested Laura work at the Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp, a summer camp in Mount Union, PA designed for people with disabilities. Despite not having any experience working with adults with disabilities, she recalled being excited for the summer to start, after some intensive training.
“I had a blast,” Laura said. And after the summer ended, she says she just knew that “this is what I want to do.”
She moved back to Winchester in the fall of 2015 and began working at SVCR where she stayed for about two years. Laura then transitioned to providing 1-on-1 support for a student with a disability in the area and ultimately moved to Wilmington, NC to work for Easterseals UCP, where she focused on community engagement, supported employment, and provided some in-home direct support. During the pandemic, she returned to Winchester and enrolled in an online graduate program through Capella University, where she is pursuing her Masters in Human Services, specializing in Social and Community Services.
As a Direct Service Professional, Laura works closely with clients in our Day Support Program to build social and life skills that lead to empowerment and independence. She hopes to not only help clients achieve their personal and professional goals while at NW Works, but also to help move the needle of acceptance in terms of our society at large. She feels sometimes “people who don’t work with this population fear this population,” because they haven’t always been exposed to the differences that can come with disability. Laura believes that through integrated employment and community engagement opportunities, those outside the disability community can learn more about the diverse individuals NW Works serves.
“It’s when those things happen that the fear [and discomfort] really starts to diminish.”
When she’s not working in-house with our clients, Laura enjoys visiting breweries and spending time with her friends, her family, and her cat, Ozzy, and her dog, Poppy.