Over the span of 20 years, Nicole Pierce has served more than 40 individuals who live independently in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and worked to keep them living independently in their homes.
“One of the many gifts Nicole gives to the individuals she supports is the security and confidence of knowing that they can conquer challenges that come their way,” said Sarah Quigley, program director and Nicole’s nominator.
Nicole joined the REM Minnesota Hennepin team in 1996 after meeting a REM employee in the community and being intrigued by the work. She has been an advocate ever since. From her immense patience with one woman with a traumatic brain injury who had been struggling with laundry for more than a decade to her persistence in supporting a man with cognitive disorders in his quest to become a U.S. citizen, Nicole never gives up on the hopes and goals of the individuals she supports.
“Working with our clients makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile,” said Nicole.“When you work with people for a long time, they trust you and you are able to better serve them.”
Not only do clients turn to her for support, but so do her peers. She is the go-to person when someone hits a roadblock and a leader among her team not only because of her decades of knowledge and experience, but for her fierce advocacy and determination. If she doesn’t have an answer to a question, she will work through it, whether it’s a funding source for dental care or a new technique to help someone reach a specific goal.
“Nicole is a problem solver,” added Sarah. “Every day she and her clients are dealt new challenges and opportunities. She guides them through these with perseverance and care, finding opportunities to teach and learn.”