Employment is a crucial part of every person’s life. Obviously, the financial reward for working is necessary to sustain ourselves - but, in reality, being employed is much more than that.
Most of us identify with our jobs. And, whether it’s right or wrong, other people form at least part of their opinion about us based on the kind of work we do. When you consider that employment occupies a major portion of our lives, its significance cannot be denied.
This is just as true for individuals with developmental disabilities. They want to have a meaningful job that will allow them to reach their potential. But before that can happen, they have to be given the opportunity to work.
That is why our nonprofit exists. We offer employment and vocational training to men and women with intellectual and physical challenges. These are individuals who, through no fault of their own, are frequently overlooked in the job market.
Unfortunately, these adults are typically judged by their diagnosis rather than by their humanity. Too often, potential employers fail to see past the particular challenges that an individual has.
But the Meadows is different. Because we value the worth of every person regardless of their disability, we’re committed to providing a safe and positive environment while delivering the support needed so they can perform their jobs to the best of their ability.
For the men and women, we proudly employ, work is far more than just a way to earn money. It gives them a sense of inclusion. It provides purpose, and it allows them to discover abilities that they never knew they had.
The fact that these adults are successfully employed is an example of what people with developmental disabilities can accomplish. The general public gets to see first-hand the quality of their work, and the entire community benefits.
Of course, there are many types of employment. Some jobs are uplifting and some can be drudgery. Just because there is a paycheck attached to a particular activity doesn’t magically bestow it with meaning for the person who has to carry it out.
Individuals with developmental disabilities want to spend their day engaged in tasks that challenge them and build their confidence. They want to have goals they can strive for. They want to be part of an organization where they are valued.
Our nonprofit meets all of those criteria. The men and women who work with us, earn the respect of their coworkers and our customers. As they progress and gain experience, they attempt increasingly complex assignments. Each step of the way, they’re given the instruction and assistance needed to become proficient at their jobs.
However, it is important to understand that employment for adults in our organization is not what the public is accustomed to. Work requires a deeper level of focus when you can only use one hand. Tasks take on a different perspective when mobility and balance issues must be addressed to ensure a person’s safety. Mastering vocational skills become more complicated when dealing with short term memory loss or sensory issues. And the difficulty of maintaining your concentration is magnified when you are at risk of having a seizure at any moment.
And yet, these are the types of challenges our employees deal with every day.
But despite the fact that such circumstances are an irreversible part of their lives, these men and women take great satisfaction in their jobs. They are eager to come to work because they know their efforts will be acknowledged and appreciated.
Too often positive feedback has been lacking in their lives. That’s why, for a person who has been repeatedly discouraged in their efforts to find steady employment, eventually being hired has tremendous meaning for them and their families.
It is not by accident that the name of our nonprofit explains our mission.
We are the Meadows Center for Opportunity, and it is our privilege to work with such incredible men and women.