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Women of Excellence at DDI: Introducing Sarah Garceau

Women of Excellence at DDI Sarah Garceau

While in college working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering, Sarah sought a job that would give her practical hands-on skills pertaining to her degree. Sarah heard about an open position at DDI that sounded perfect, and she became DDI’s first female Maintenance Mechanic! 

Most recently, Sarah was part of the Buildings and Grounds Team renovating a house that is soon to be DDI’s Foxwoods IRA in Calverton.  The renovations Sarah worked on included removing a fireplace, putting up a wall to create another bedroom and patching the roof.

Sarah has been with DDI for almost three years.  She describes her experience as “Nothing short of amazing. I love each day I come to work. I have met so many outstanding people at DDI and am so overjoyed to be a part of the DDI family. Being part of the Maintenance Department, I got to work at every school building and now that I am involved with the Adult Residential part of the department, I've had the experience to go to every house to assist with their upkeep.”

Sarah was instrumental in the development of DDI’s new online work order system and has inventoried all the appliances and HVAC units at DDI and input them into the system.   The new work order system assists the Buildings and Grounds Department to address maintenance needs in an organized and timely fashion, fulfilling DDI’s mission to provide the highest quality of services to the individuals we support.

Architectural Engineering and DDI’s Buildings and Grounds Department are primarily male-dominated environments.  Sarah is very proud to be the first woman hired as a Maintenance Mechanic at DDI.  

Sarah shared, “Working at DDI has made my confidence level much higher.  In the beginning, when the men would ask if I needed them to carry something for me, I would say no, carry it myself and they would be shocked. I have set up ladders to climb on the roofs of the schools, and as people would ask if I was comfortable climbing a ladder, I would already be on the roof! I love working with the guys, lifting heavy things and getting dirty in all the amazing work we do around DDI.”  

When asked if she had any advice for women who are looking to break into predominantly male environments, Sarah said, “DO IT!  Be confident in yourself and remember anything a man can do, a woman can do. It is scary at first because there is such an unconscious bias of women not being good enough for male jobs. But, once you prove to yourself that you can do it, your confidence will show, and the men will respect you. They can see that you do ‘their’ job as well if not better than them.”

The Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds has high praises for Sarah saying she “has been an asset while working with the Adult Residential Maintenance Department. She is always willing to learn and completes all tasks professionally.”    

While working at DDI Sarah has developed a passion for the field of autism and developmental disabilities. In addition to her position at DDI, Sarah will soon be working part-time at an architectural firm that specializes in the development of homes, schools and site-based day programs for people with developmental and other disabilities.