Thanks to Employers Who Boldly Go Where Few Have

Less than 30% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are employed.

With the right coaching, simple accommodations and bold employers, that number could rise dramatically.

How do we know?

We’ve got bold partners employing the people we support across the United States.

They are in retail (like Steve, who has worked at Kohls for ten years), healthcare (like James, who works at Midwest Pharmacy) and manufacturing (like Tim, who works at Days Corporation).

This month, as we recognize National Disability Employment Awareness, we want to thank the businesses that have answered the call to boldly partner with Mosaic and the people we support!

By providing meaningful employment opportunities, they empower people.

Partners like the Midland Railroad Hotel have worked with us to create unique opportunities for employment. After attending a Discover the Possibilities event at Mosaic in North Central Kansas, General Manager Melinda Merrill worked with staff to find ways to help people work at the hotel. It was a natural decision for Merrill, who used to teach special education.

Additionally, Merrill facilitated building raised bed gardens on the hotel property to provide an opportunity for people with high support needs. With support from direct care staff, they grow vegetables and sell them back to the hotel for profit. For many of the gardeners, it’s the first paycheck they’ve earned. 

The hotel employs six people Mosaic supports and hopes to hire more soon.

The results are often a win-win for employers like Merrill: businesses who hire people with disabilities are often seen more favorably in their communities, plus employees with disabilities have lower turnover rates and are often considered model employees, like JR.

Supported by Mosaic in Arizona, JR has worked at Safeway for more than 15 years. Last summer, a fire broke out at the location where he worked, prompting employees to be reassigned to new stores.

Because JR had the longest tenure at the location that burned down, he got first choice on a new store. He picked a Safeway along his bus route so he could continue going to work independently. JR’s new manager, Jon, said he’s had a great impact on their culture.

“He’s always early and greets everyone positively.”

Unfortunately, JR and the employees of the Midland Railroad Hotel’s experiences aren’t the norm for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

There are many reasons the people Mosaic supports struggle to find work, but the biggest barriers are:

  • a lack of opportunities
  • a lack of training
  • stigma from potential employers

That’s why Mosaic works with local employers to create unique job opportunities to help people learn new skills, provides job coaches to people in service to help them gain confidence, and even helps people start their own businesses.

Jesus is the perfect example of what happens when an applicant, employer and Mosaic come together.

Jesus, Mosaic in Liberal and Liberal Public Schools partnered to create a plan so he could work in the school cafeteria. It’s been a great success for everyone involved.

“I wash the silverware, the plates and help put everything away and then I help the ladies with any other help they might need,” Martinez said. “I like working with my co-workers. I also like seeing all the little kids, they’re always excited at lunchtime.”

“The people we support are capable of doing so many things, they just need the opportunity from the community,” said Ed Ridgeway, an employment specialist who helped Jesus acclimate to his new role in an in interview with the local newspaper that spotlighted the partnership.

Even though National Disability Employment Awareness Month is almost over, we hope employers will continue to boldly go where few have gone before.

We know they won’t regret it.

If you’re interested in finding great employees like JR and Jesus, contact us.

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