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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9017
    JPY
    USD
    102.66
    GBP
    USD
    0.7443
    CAD
    USD
    1.2990
    INR
    USD
    67.600

    Rates may not be current.