Jonalyn was in a terrible position. Should she use limited family funds to pay for a quality education for her daughter this year or allocate that money to her special needs son, who needs speech therapy?
Thanks to HireSmart, Jonalyn doesn't have to make that tough choice. She now has the money to do both after receiving an education scholarship for her 5-year-old daughter, Marciella Audrey.
"When I received the news that I was one of the people that got picked (for the scholarship), I cried," she said. "I literally cried. I cried my heart out. I was so thankful."
Jonalyn and her husband, Christopher, have a 9-year-old son who has been diagnosed with "echolalia," which is the non-voluntary repetition of another individual's speech. She said therapy has helped him communicate with the family at a basic level.
"He's doing speech therapy, and if we don't do that, we have a hard time communicating with him," she said. "But since we started doing that, he improved a lot."
Jonalyn sees the therapy as essential, but she also wants her daughter to get a strong start on her educational journey, and she says enrolling her in a quality school is a must.
"I don't want to choose between what our special needs kid needs and what our daughter needs," she said.
Jonalyn has been employed by HireSmart Virtual Employees for four years, serving a property management company in the U.S., primarily handling lease renewals.
She applied for one of 20 scholarships HireSmart Virtual Employees offered this year to the children of its employees through its nonprofit arm, HireSmart Cares. HireSmart is the leader in the virtual employment market in looking out for its staff, offering good wages, health and dental insurance, quality training and support, leadership courses, and educational scholarships for the children of its employees.
"What HireSmart has been doing helping kids, that's different," said Jonalyn. "I've never heard of a company that does that, you know."
Jonalyn smiles, talking about Marciella Audrey. She says her child is energetic and loves to dance and draw. Jonalyn is a singer and used to perform mellow love tunes with a band but now enjoys the occasional karaoke party.
"I kind of want her (Marciella Audrey) to try singing as well," she said.
Jonalyn says her daughter is young and is not fully aware yet of her brother's challenges, but she said understanding will come with time.
"We kind of just tell her that your big brother doesn't understand the way you understand, and he's going to a different school than you," she said. "She says, 'OK.' But you know, she's 5. She'll understand that later on with guidance."
Jonalyn said she is elated to give both children what they need, and she voiced gratitude to HireSmart CEO Anne Lackey.
"It is an honor to have been chosen as a recipient, and I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity given," she said. "This program will make a tremendous difference in our kids' lives."