On the way to Independent Employment

Monica has started a new job with Delaware North Sportservice, the food service partner of the Cleveland Indians!

Monica attended a job fair in March with companies who had evidence of hiring people with disabilities. She knew what a job fair was. She had watched her brothers before. Prepare a resume. Make copies. Carry a nice folder for the resumes and take a pen. Dress very nicely. Smile and shake hands to introduce yourself. She was asked a week later to a second interview with Delaware North and they offered her a position. We are thrilled in many ways. First, there were a lot of applicants at that job fair! Second, Monica’s case worker through the county shared that she has had many clients that have tried for years to get jobs in the community before this kind of success. Third, she loves it!

Some of you might not know that Monica’s previous employment had been in a supervised setting of a group of individuals with disabilities and her day included a long van ride, a lot of breaks and lower standards than in most jobs. I think this is called a Supported Employment Enclave. She was paid with state and federal funding rather than the site where she worked. This was a great way to start and she learned many skills. But after some time, she might have been getting away with not pushing herself. This new job is termed Competitive Employment with Supports or sometimes called Employment with Accommodations.  She was hired and is being paid by Delaware North. Her funding through the state paid for a job coach for the first few weeks and a transportation service. She works doing the same tasks as her co-workers. This has caused her to step up her performance!

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Monica enters Progressive Field, the baseball stadium, under the special awning marked Employee Entrance. She works in the kitchen which prepares the food for the suites and Terrace Club restaurant. She will not be in the very fast-paced or ‘full of strangers’ concessions. She is scheduled for 9-3 on home-game days.  She has a uniform and apron and Cleveland ‘C’ baseball cap which has ‘STAFF’ on the back. Very cool. Fortunately, there are no TVs in the kitchen, so she is not distracted if there is a game going on.

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The variety of foods that Monica has prepped are a thrill for her. She has chopped veggies, arranged food platters, grilled burgers, chicken and pork chops, rolled burritos, created fruit kabobs, packaged small food items, filled small serving dishes with dips and dressings, applied ingredients to pizza shells, mixed salads, placed cookies, brownies and soft pretzels on trays. She is moving every minute of her shift. It seems to us as though the chef must not have realized that people with Monica’s disability just aren’t given these kinds of tasks. Using a hot grill?! Amazing! A sharp knife?! Startling! But by teaching her the steps and details of each task, they proved she can do many things. The food presentation is carrying over to meals at home – you should see the condiments platter for burger night: lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. She even knows the word ‘garnish’.

We are all very happy with this opportunity. However, baseball is only a season so even if our Cleveland team goes to the World Series, soon Monica will be looking for a winter job. But until then – Play Ball!

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