Mel Pullen grew up in Mapaville, and even though it is a very small town in central Jefferson County, she knew little about the area’s biggest employer.
She knew that Pony Bird was a home for people with profound mental and physical limitations near the town’s main intersection of Missouri lettered highways A and Z. What she didn’t realize was the impact that the people who live there and the people who work there have on each other’s lives.
When Mel turned 18 she applied for a job, got an interview, took the tour of the buildings on the campus, met several of the residents and received an offer to start working.
“I told them, ‘I don’t think I’m mature enough for the job,’ and I know I wasn’t,” Mel said.
She took another route, working in a childcare facility. An encounter with one of the kids there changed her perspective and led her to call on Pony Bird again.
“We had a little boy in my daycare with special needs,” Mel said. “No other daycare would take him. He had a feeding tube and ear implants. We took him in and I took some MA1 (medical assistant) classes. I fell in love with him. I realized, this is my calling.”
She returned to Pony Bird as a Direct Support Professional providing assistance to the individuals and extra hands for the nurses, therapists, doctors, and other medical staff. With on-the-job training and guidance from her supervisors and co-workers, she earned her state certification and a promotion to medical assistant.
“I came in and I said, ‘I’m going to give this a try.’ Within the first week I was hooked,” she said. “Caring for people with special needs is my grail. This is a natural fit for me.”
While she said her connection to the individuals and the home feels innate, she also credits the support and instructions all coworkers receive.
“We have the best orientation and training program I have ever seen. They always offer extra training, and they make sure you are comfortable with every task,” Mel said. “It’s OK to say, ‘I just don’t feel it’s for me.’ You are going to come out with an appreciation for others who do the job.”
She also credits the pay, benefits, holidays and bonuses offered as a unique aspect of the Pony Bird experience. But for Mel and most others, it is much more than just a place to work. It’s an opportunity to be a part of a big extended family with residents and coworkers.
“Every individual has a story. They don’t just live in a home; they have fulfilled lives. There are just some things they need help doing. I’m there to help people who need assistance,” Mel said. “Even the past employees who move out of state, or if your career takes you somewhere else, you are always part of the Pony Bird Family.”
If you would like to explore available opportunities at Pony Bird visit our employment portal here.