More Than A Job
Our jobs play an important role in each of our lives. In many ways, they help to define us. For some, it means having the ability to provide for their families. For others, it is a lifelong commitment to a meaningful career. But no matter what the circumstances, our jobs occupy a significant portion of our time.
Every weekday morning, forty-seven men and women come to work at the Meadows. They range in age from twenty-one to seventy-three, and they come from every walk of life. But the one thing they all have in common is the fact that they each have some type of intellectual challenge.
For most of these individuals, being employed was a long-term goal - but not a certainty.
That is why their job is so important to them. They remember the years of hard work and effort that was required to realize their dream. To be rewarded with the opportunity to reach their potential means everything to them.
But it is important to understand that being employed benefits them in more ways than just receiving financial compensation.
Their job keeps them physically strong and mentally active. They don’t spend their time sitting in front of a TV. They are engaged with life. They are up and moving. They are testing themselves and finding that they can do much more than was once believed.
Having a job gives their life structure and discipline. It provides them with valuable experience and a sense of purpose. Day by day they build self-esteem and self-confidence. As they experience success, it creates a feeling of accomplishment. The pride they feel for earning a paycheck is well deserved.
Once they begin working at our facility it is a never-ending opportunity to learn. Our employees develop both vocational and social skills. They discover the importance of interacting appropriately with others which gives them a sense of belonging. They form friendships that last a lifetime. Some of our employees have worked together for more than three decades. Those kinds of enduring relationships are rare in modern life.
Having a job at the Meadows allows them to be part of the community. They have the chance to interact with people who do not have disabilities. The public gets to see their dedication and commitment. Our customers are always impressed by the skill and ability displayed by our workers.
Being employed gives them a sense of identity. They get to see themselves in a way that has nothing to do with their particular disability. We offer them the freedom to be themselves. In our organization, they’re not judged – but rather they are accepted for who they are.
At the Meadows, differences are celebrated, not discouraged. Everyone is allowed to express their individuality even as they learn to work together as part of a team to achieve a common goal. Their job has a built-in level of trust. They are never pressured. Instead, they are encouraged to keep trying when attempting a new task.
Fortunately, in recent years more people with developmental disabilities are finding jobs in the community, and we certainly think that is a positive trend. However, for some individuals with intellectual challenges, working without supports is never going to be a realistic option.
That is why we must offer them an appropriate alternative.
We cannot allow people to be left behind just because their issues are more significant. They too deserve to experience the dignity and respect that comes with having a job. They should not be denied the opportunity to earn a paycheck because of circumstances that are not their fault and that are beyond their control.
It is our opinion that every person has the right to work. If adjustments or accommodations are needed to meet the particular needs of an individual it does not alter that right.
When citizens with intellectual challenges are given the chance to be productive in a vocational setting it results in a more inclusive and tolerant society.
For the incredible men and women we are privileged to employ, working at the Meadows is so much more than just a job.
We are thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of their lives.