News / Economy

Empowering Employees with Disabilities

Empowering Employees with Disabilitiesi
X
June Soh
March 19, 2014 3:01 PM
Lifelong intellectual disabilities often can hinder a person's ability to acquire skills or get a job. The people who run the Wildflour catering company near Washington, DC know that, so they have made a special effort to hire people with disabilities. VOA’s June Soh visited Wildflour and learned that the company gives its employees marketable skills, and sends them home with more than just a paycheck. Amy Katz narrates.
June Soh
Lifelong intellectual disabilities often can hinder a person's ability to acquire skills or get a job. The people who run the Wildflour catering company near Washington, D.C. know that, so they have made a special effort to hire people with disabilities. The company gives its employees marketable skills, and sends them home with more than just a paycheck.

Philippe Keefe is proud of himself for being able to do many things. He says, “I cut red potatoes, I do some cilantro, I peel carrots, I grate carrots, I cut peppers,-- "

And the list goes on! Kerry O’Brien loves to cook. She says, “It is like a dream job. I love to be a chef one day, to be a proud daughter of my parents, of course.”

O'Brien and Keefe work at Wildflour, a café and catering business in Chantilly, Virginia, where more than half of the 70 employees have intellectual disabilities. The non-profit corporation trains them to work in kitchens and restaurants.

Alberto Sangiorgio, Wildflour's general manager, says, “They work around the tables two to three months for each procedure, they do dishwashing, they do cutting things, they do many, many things. At the end of the process, it takes four to five years to do that, they are capable to work at any restaurants, any place like everybody else.”

The employees, who range in age from 22-60, make minimum wage - $7.50 an hour, and Wildflour offers them time off for illness and vacation.

Paul Miller, who has been a chef here for six years, says “They love coming to work. They love all their co-workers and they take to tasks like you won’t believe. It takes a while but after a while they go right to it. It is very rewarding for me.”

Fernanda Rodriguez, who trains them to pack biscuits, agrees. She says, “I think that they teach me more than I teach them. They are very positive, they are very affectionate. They are happy all the time.”

Veronique Keefe sees positive changes in her son, Philippe. She says, “He is much calmer, he is happy, he is energetic. He is happy with other people working there. So socially it is good for him to be here."

Richard Harrison is a regular at Wildflour café. He says the food is wonderful, but that's not the only reason he comes here.

“I appreciate the approach that the restaurant has taken and hiring those people," he said. "My experience with them is a great experience."

Chopping and packing skills aside, the job gives the employees something perhaps more valuable - a sense of self-esteem. John Stephens, who has Down syndrome, has worked at Wildflour since 2008.

He says, “This job is the key to unlocking all kinds of dreams not just to be in culinary but to be anything they want to be. This place has given me everything they can to make sure I have a steady life.”

Stephens says he wants to be an actor. And once an opportunity arises, he is confident he can act as a chef, as well.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8954
JPY
USD
119.75
GBP
USD
0.6515
CAD
USD
1.2518
INR
USD
61.921

Rates may not be current.