For a couple of months, Brent has been working on scheduling a time for me to visit him at his employment site. Brent proudly works at Pizza Hut in both Taneytown and Hampstead. A couple of weeks ago, our calendars finally lined up, and I was excited to drive to Hampstead to see Brent in action.
After meeting with his manager, Christian, and his employment specialist, Kim, Brent got down to business with the tasks for the shift. It turns out Pizza Hut sells Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. Brent and I learned how to prep the rolls for baking. After he finished that job, Brent completed dough prep for the pizzas. This is one of his favorite tasks, and Christian explained that Brent saves the rest of the team quite a bit of time later in the day. Brent’s enthusiasm for his work and attention to detail is a joy to observe. He danced while prepping the pizza dough.
Employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency and full community participation is a gift. As humans, we are more fulfilled when we can participate and contribute to society. For most of human history, this community engagement has been denied to individuals with disabilities. First, because of institutionalization, the period when those with disabilities were isolated from mainstream society, and second due to false perceptions of those with disabilities in the community.
Today, we know that disability is a natural part of the human experience and that those with disabilities have a right to equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. Last week, I wrote about and shared a video featuring Jack, a professional piano tuner. Brent and Jack exist in a reciprocal relationship through their employment. Not only are they recipients of the satisfaction and pride that comes from meaningful employment, but the customers and co-workers in the businesses they serve are enriched by their presence and contribution.
If you are an employer, consider the benefit of employment for those with disabilities. You may find your most enthusiastic, engaged, and impactful employees come from a group you may not have considered in the past. Feel free to reach out directly if you are interested in joining the 100 business and community partners Target collaborates with in helping our participants realize their employment goals.