‘Just like ev­ery­one else’

Sup­ported em­ploy­ment helps peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY BILL BOW­MAN

“I feel I am like ev­ery­one else,” Crys­tal Young told the 40 peo­ple who turned out at Fong’s Restau­rant in Car­bon­ear June 29 to rec­og­nize lo­cal em­ploy­ers who have helped in­crease em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­sons with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

Young is one of 108 per­sons with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in­volved in the sup­ported em­ploy­ment pro­gram in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

“Work to me means be­ing in­de­pen­dent,” Young said, adding: “It feels good to earn my own money.”

Mariner Re­source Op­por­tu­ni­ties Net­work (M-RON) has been op­er­at­ing the sup­ported em­ploy­ment ser­vice since tak­ing over ad­min­is­tra­tion of the pro­gram in 2004.

“Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual has the right to em­ploy­ment,” said Karen Davis, M-Ron’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Davis ex­plained, “the pro­gram was de­vel­oped to iden­tify and/or de­velop suit­able em­ploy­ment op­tions for in­di­vid­u­als with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.”

With the ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ment and sup­port, “per­sons with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties can ac­quire mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment,” the di­rec­tor said.

Em­ployer of merit

Bob Tet­ford, owner of R. Tet­ford & Son, re­ceived the 2010-11 em­ployer of merit award for his con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­gram.

Dur­ing the past five years Tet­ford has em­ployed two in­di­vid­u­als, “who have gained long-term em­ploy­ment and have be­come an in­te­gral part of his staff,” said sup­ported em­ploy­ment coun­sel­lor Jen­nifer Baker.

The busi­ness was cho­sen from among 10 lo­cal firms and or­ga­ni­za­tions nom­i­nated for this year’s award.

Re­fer­ring to Tet­ford, Baker noted: “This em­ployer has a great un­der­stand­ing of the con­cept of sup­ported em­ploy­ment and the ben­e­fits gained by both em­ployee and em­ployer. He works with each em­ployee in a fair and just man­ner, re­gard­less of abil­ity or dis­abil­ity.”

Tet­ford speaks highly of the pro­gram and be­lieves peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties are an as­set to any busi­ness.

De­scrib­ing this year’s award re­cip­i­ent as “a prime ex­am­ple of an equal op­por­tu­nity em­ployer, great cor­po­rate spon­sor and com­mu­nity leader,” Baker said, Tet­ford and his staff “are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the best guid­ance and on-site sup­port to his sup­ported em­ploy­ment em­ploy­ees.”

One of the in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed by R. Tet­ford & Son works at its Har­bour Grace store, while the other is em­ployed at its Car­bon­ear out­let.

While the award goes to one in­di­vid­ual an­nu­ally, the em­ploy­ment coun­sel­lor stressed it is de­signed “to rec­og­nize all em­ploy­ers in Zone 17 (Bac­calieu Trail) who have made an out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the in­creased em­ploy­ment of cit­i­zens with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.”

R. Tet­ford & Son is one of 30 busi­nesses in the re­gion in­volved in the pro­gram.

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