When Adam graduated from high school in 2019 he knew he wanted to get a job. “I want to take food orders like my sister,” he said.
During school Adam worked hard at developing his reading skills and money counting skills, but even with adapted curriculum he still struggled to get some words right and correctly make change. He also enrolled in a Job Training program his Junior and Senior years to develop other skills. There he earned his ServSafe certification, learned about food expiration dates, and helped prepare meals and specialty food items in the classroom kitchen.
We were confident that Adam would find a job. However, after helping Adam fill out many online job applications, he only had a couple of interviews; most never called back.
In March 2020, COVID-19 roared into our lives and closed most of our community down, including restaurant businesses.
As temperatures climbed, restaurants opened back up with limited capacity and outdoor dining became the norm..and Adam got a break.
A family friend owned a small local restaurant, she could use a table busser and someone to clean for a few hours a day. She was willing to train Adam on the job. There he learned how to re-stock condiments, clear dishes, mop the floors and sterilize tables and menus. Adam worked on his soft skills, greeting customers and taking their drink orders.
However, as winter approached, COVID numbers peaked again, and the restaurant owner closed her business in December. Adam was out of a job.
Yet, with that experience Adam showed he could be a valuable employee: he always arrived early, never called off, would stay if they needed him and was willing to learn more on the job. He needed an employer that would give him a chance and work with his abilities.
So when I saw a Facebook post on Memorial Day for a new restaurant hosting open interviews, I commented, “Would you hire someone with disabilities?”
“We have other people working for Culver’s who have job coaches. Please bring your son in during the walk-in interviews.”
Adam interviewed that day and was hired on the spot as a dining room food runner, starting at minimum wage. A job coach from The Workshops Inc. (TWI) helped Adam through the initial training week, complete his employee paperwork and get signed up for direct deposit of his paycheck.
Now, for 20 hours per week Adam not only helps in the dining room, but also delivers food to tables, carryout or curbside orders. He is is also learning to bag the food orders.
Adam has reaped the benefits of his dedication. He was among the employees who received a small bonus for completing his first 30 days. When the restaurant was short-staffed, Adam and his co-workers received “Culvers Bucks” as a thank you for pitching in. He plans to buy a company jacket when he earns enough incentive.
“I love my job, Mom It’s my best job ever.”
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year the theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion”. This theme reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Adam is one of 280+ adults with intellectual disabilities currently employed in the Stark County community.
What are the benefits of having an inclusive workforce?
- For individuals with developmental disabilities, community employment leads to greater independence, increased income, improved self-esteem and greater personal satisfaction.
- For employers, the benefits are employees with disabilities tend to keep their jobs longer and have the same or better absentee and sick rates as non-disabled employees.
- Supports needed by people with disabilities come at no cost to the employer. For example, the support of a job coach that will work with the individual and employer to develop a plan to help the individual to be successful in their job. This can include specialized training on new assignments, help with understanding policies and procedures and help with successfully interacting with co-workers.
- Industry data reports show workers with disabilities consistently show average to above average in performance, quality and quantity of work, flexibility to demands, attendance and safety.
How does Stark DD help individuals with employment?
- A Stark DD Service and Support Administrator (SSA) helps to coordinates services to support the person wherever they are on their path to employment.
- Examples of those services could be discovering their job interests, learning job skills, helping them find employment and supporting them when their hired.
- We collaborate with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) to help a person explore, apply, and interview for a job.
- Depending on the person, support can be provided throughout their career to be successful.
- If interested, you can contact our Stark DD Intake Department at 330-479-3582. You can reach OOD at 330-438-0500.
Each month Stark DD tells the story of a child or adult with developmental disabilities. This month we are featuring stories of people working in our community. Their stories can be found on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/StarkDD and on our website at https://starkdd.org/news-and-publications/stories/