Frontline Initiative Direct Support Professionals

A Quiet Hero:
The League for People with Disabilities


Erica Stevenson is a tutor at Norwood Elementary School in Baltimore County.

Celebrating its 78th year, The League for People with Disabilities is a pivotal and pioneering agency which annually offers more than 1,300 individuals with multiple, physical, cognitive, and neurological disabilities the opportunity to gain independence through a comprehensive continuum of vocational, rehabilitative, educational, medical, wellness, and social services.

When Erica Stevenson arrived at The League last November, she had high hopes — and low self-esteem. Individually tailored classes and job coaching workshops through The League’s Vocational Services program gave Erica the skills — and the boost — she needed to land a job as a one-on-one tutor at Norwood Elementary School in Baltimore County, where she works with first and second-graders in reading and math skills.

A graduate of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland, with a degree in applied psychology, Erica knew that she wanted to teach and work with children, but she felt ill-equipped to make the leap from dreams to reality. “I couldn’t have done it without The League,” says Erica. “When I came here, I had just left a job working in a kitchen. With my degree, I knew I could do more, and The League helped me find the way.”

Vanessa Foster, of Vocational Services, customized Erica’s job training to her educational interests and career goals and also served as her job coach. “Erica is such a success story,” Vanessa says. “When she first started at The League her confidence level was so low and it has grown dramatically. Even her family has noticed the difference. Erica is so confident now that she has applied to Coppin’s Master’s degree program in rehabilitative counseling.” Erica’s future plans include working with people with disabilities. “I want to fi nd other people with disabilities jobs the way The League helped me,” she says.

The Vocational Services program, in cooperation with Maryland Department of Rehabilitative Services, also helped Erica get an electric scooter so she can more easily keep up with her students. “The kids love my scooter and so do I,” says Erica. “When I first got there, the kids were totally fascinated with the scooter and had so many questions. They were interested in my disability, too, and some of them said, ‘You talk funny,’ and I explained that my disability affects my speech and they were like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s cool.’”

Last summer, Erica volunteered at Vocational Services, assisting with the job-training classes. However, Erica may have been one of the few people who actually looked forward to September. “I love getting up in the morning and going to work,” she says. “I love my students — they are so inquisitive and open.”

About The League

Through the efforts of Mrs. Isabell K. Frank, William S. Baer, and the Council of Jewish Women, The League for People with Disabilities was founded in 1927 to provide services to children with disabilities. Since that time, The League has continued its innovative programming, such as Camp Greentop, serving over 400 campers annually; League Industries, which provides vocational training to people with disabilities; and Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which helps hundreds of individuals find employment in the community.