Employees With Disabilities Work Hard Too
FULTON - It's 3:58p.m. and six workers crowd around the time clock at Westminster's Mueller Hall, waiting to clock in. Each of the six employees' shifts start at 4:00pm, they seem to arrive early every day for work; 99 percent of the time they are never late. The emotion on their faces show they are happy, positive about working. These employees truly love to work because they have something to prove: that they can do the work just as well as anyone else.
Physically they look just like you and I but mentally they are disabled.
Giorgio Cossiach, the director of food services for Fresh Ideas Inc. makes an effort to hire disabled people at his workplace.
"In my past jobs, I always worked with different agency that provide people that little disabilities or special needs and provide them with jobs that are easy to do but very important for our line of business and I was very successful and getting good results."
He hires them as dishwashers, hostess, cleaners and one is even one of his best cooks. Fresh Ideas is partnered with Options Unlimited.
Options Unlimited is a corporation with the sole purpose to help disabled persons obtain jobs by helping them with the application process, giving mock interviews, and upon hiring a representative comes with the new employee to the place of work to make sure they are a good fit.
About five percent of the workers at Fresh Ideas comes from Options Unlimited and are disabled. The employees go through the same application process and training as any other person, including background checks. If hired, the employees works 20 hours a week.
Giorgio says that many people don't hire disabled person fearing that they are a hassle.
"They work very well, hardly missing a day. They are very conscious of they work, and once you show them something they got it," Giorgio said.
All of the employees have worked under Fresh Ideas for about three years.
Giorgio explained that he felt confident in all of them and that he's never had a problem out of them nor has he had a problem with the other employees. Even though the employees are disabled, Giorgio says they tend to work better than there non-disabled counterparts, who call in sick or sometimes don't show up at all for days.
"Even if I don't have work, how can I tell them no," he explained. "They are like my children."
Girogio thinks that the common misconception about disabled person needs to be dispelled, he said "They are really good workers."
"More companies should be looking at these individuals they are great workers. They are very dedicated. They follow instruction extremely well and, like I said before, they really want to do a good job for you."
If you ever set foot into Westminster dining hall, you'll notice the gorgeous Harry Potter like dining area but outshining the décor is the energetic and humble 80 years young hostess Peggy Bahr. Bahr greets and hugs all the students as they enter pestering them for conversation and jokes. She's a long time employee of Fresh Ideas working they for 29 years but serving the dining hall for only about six years.
"Its not work its fun its part of life you might as well enjoy it," she said.
Bahr feels lucky to have a job at her age, so she enjoys each day on the job to fullest.
Bahr says, "A lot of people don't have jobs and I'm lucky to have a job because a lot of people wouldn't hire me because of my age.
It's getting close to dinnertime, the grill is fired up. Tonight is steak night the aroma fills the kitchen. The remaining staff members wash the trays and dishes. One young man stands out from the rest. He happily takes the clean dishes to be placed on the carts while moving the dirty ones back to the washroom. His name is Ed Robins he 27 years old, while he has had other jobs working at places like Long John Silver. He said he like working at the dining hall the best.
"I like it because it's always a challenge each day you know you have to keep up a certain pace I pretty much nail it every day."
There are over 5,400 working aged adults with disabilities that are unemployed.
With Missouri's unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, some wonder how disabled person factor into the percentage. They do not because many-disabled person receives some type of government assistance.