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David and Mercedes Rizzo had a front-row seat to witness their daughter's participation in a holiday ritual they didn't think she'd ever be able to enjoy.

The month of December is a busy time. There’s shopping, decorating, and celebrating. Some people look forward to the busyness and some people dread it. And then there is the famous office holiday party.

Having a job promotes a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It allows you to have social interaction and utilize your skills and talents, as well as receive a paycheck. When you have special needs, finding an appropriate job is not always easy. This is especially true if you are non-verbal like our daughter Danielle. Recently, she started a volunteer work program. This program provides job training and experience to individuals with developmental disabilities. She has a regular shift and duties. She gains practical life and work skills. She enjoys this opportunity very much. Danielle needs one of us to attend with her and help. She needs job coaching support, as do many of her co-workers. Danielle is happy at work.




She attended her work site’s holiday party this month. It was endearing to see the joy on everyone’s face during the party. There were smiles, karaoke, cookie decorating, and of course cookie eating. There was good food, overall merriment, and a gift exchange game.


Joy is an important part of life. Allow yourself to feel it. Pay attention to it. Don’t miss it. #catholicmom


Going to a holiday office party was something we didn’t think Danielle would ever be able to do because of the severity of her autism. It made us happy to see her doing something that her two brothers will also be doing this month, something that so many others in our society get to do. She was not able to attend independently, but it did not diminish her joy at being there. And we had a front-row seat to witness the happiness and excitement in the room.

It reminded us that joy is an important part of life. Allow yourself to feel it. Pay attention to it. Don’t miss it. Being a part of Danielle’s holiday office party was a true gift and source of joy for us too. Danielle and her co-workers, by being themselves, are a true gift—not just during the holidays but every day of their lives. They are inspiring.



Copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images: copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo