Advocacy & Art: Linda Kunick’s two joys

Linda Kunick at her desk in the advocacy department at Hamilton County DD Services. Artwork and butterflies decorate her workspace.
Linda Kunick at her desk in the advocacy department at Hamilton County DD Services. Artwork and butterflies decorate her workspace.

My name is Linda Kunick and I work for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services as an advocate. I started here in spring 2014 after I retired from Envision, which used to be called Resident Home. I worked at Resident Home for 40 years, where I was a teacher helper, an office clerk and then my last job there was being an advocate for Envision.

My first job at Resident Home was working with the kids and teaching them life skills like learning how to eat, dress and feed themselves. And then when the school closed in 1993, I got to work in the office as a clerk. My favorite part of being an office clerk was doing the mail run because I got to meet and talk to people. I really did like that job.

Then they gave me the job of advocate after being an office clerk. I loved my advocate work, and I always enjoyed it. I love to tell people how I became a butterfly, which was coming out of my cocoon and learning to speak up for myself. It always makes me feel good to do that job. I love to wake up in the morning and go do my advocate work. That’s my joy.

Linda Kunick at The School for Creative & Performing Arts (SCPA) working with second-graders. Here they are painting their ceramic butterflies. (Photo from V+V)
Linda Kunick at The School for Creative & Performing Arts working with second-graders. Here, they are painting their ceramic butterflies. (Photo from V+V)

My second joy is going to Visionaries & Voices and doing my art. I went to classes every Wednesday for 30 weeks and I learned how to do more art, then I learned how to teach the class. My class was second-graders, and I just loved it. I graduated from the class on May 1 and will be getting paid to teach art when they need me.

The focus of my class is drawing and clay. I will teach students how to draw with crayons and I can also teach the class how to do clay pieces. I love working with clay and I learned from my friend Ruth, my mentor on clay. She taught me everything and I can do it by myself now.

Outside of work, I’m very active with my church and I’m very active out in the community. With my church, I go to Nicaragua on mission trips to give presents to new mothers and to kids. We also walk around the neighborhood and give gifts to the people. Then we will paint buildings sometimes, pick up trash and clean up, or help them build walls with bricks. In Nicaragua, they have many jobs to do but you can pick what you like.

When I leave Nicaragua, I leave my heart there and I do every year. And I always want to go back. The week before my trip I get very excited to go and when I get back home, I’m ready to go to Nicaragua again. After my first trip, when I got off the airplane, I told my sisters, “I did it and I want to go back!” Then I went back every year. I leave in November for my 19th trip.

Even though I retired from my job after 40 years, I love to stay busy.

Linda’s story is part of a first-person series about community employment.

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