Vernelle Gettie is not afraid of hard work. At the age of 8, she began spending the daylight hours after school in the fields of Saluda County picking cotton and peaches alongside her grandmother.
At 18, when most teens are looking for their first job, Vernelle, with ten years of work experience, became a mother. She dropped out of her rural high school to take a job as a housekeeper in an Aiken hotel, which required her to make a daily sixty-mile commute. She kept that routine for five years, until she decided to move to Detroit to live with family. The Motor City offered many opportunities, and Vernelle found employment in the food service and environmental service industries. However, she discovered that the work she most enjoyed was at a facility that served residents with disabilities.