NOTE: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Originally posted by the South Dakota Department of Human Services Rehabilitation Services
To shed a little more light on the real people impacted by businesses championing everyone’s right to be employed regardless of their disability status, Ability for Hire is highlighting stories from South Dakotans who have benefited from the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program and who are experiencing the many benefits — both emotional and financial — of being employed.
Meet Caitlin, a Vermillion resident who is currently employed by Aramark out of University of South Dakota (USD).
What do you love most about your current job?
“Helping people,” she said. “(Students and employers) are really nice to you.” As part of the Aramark team at USD, Caitlin works in the office doing data entry and printing invoices, as well as out front as a cashier, interacting mostly with students. “It’s just really nice – everybody here is really welcoming.”
How does it make you feel to go to work each day?
“I’m pretty happy to see everybody. It’s just kind of interesting to see what my day will be like when I get sent to cashier,” she said. “I like cashiering, because I get to see the students and interact with them more — they ask me how I’m doing, say thank you — everybody’s pretty nice here.”
What do you like most about working with your VR counselor?
“They’re super supportive and always great to talk to, Caitlin said of her counselor, particularly during her time attending Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa. “They even helped me pay for school and helped with gas.”
How has your life changed since you became employed?
Caitlin cited her time at Aramark as a great experience thus far. “I’ve got more friends to hang out with, and it’s been pretty positive,” she said. “I have a group of people who I say hi to every day, and they’re really nice. Sometimes I hang out with them (outside of work) and play video games.” This social community has been a big part of what makes employment so special for Caitlin.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
“It’s a good distraction,” Caitlin said of her love of playing piano and singing. “I get to connect with people. I take lessons and sing in community choir here at USD. It’s pretty fun — performing in concerts.” Beyond music, Caitlin also is an adept dog-trainer and an avid traveler, never missing an opportunity to patronize the Florida theme parks and having a particularly memorable time on her two visits to Australia.
What do you appreciate most about earning a paycheck?
“It’s good to give back to the community,” she said. “It’s pretty nice to have friends.” And these experiences have made her a better overall employee, by Caitlin’s estimation. “Growing responsibility, learning to get projects done on time, doing some financing and filing and remembering people and places” are all attributes she said have improved as a result of her employment at Aramark, as well as past work experience in a research office and a salon/spa. “I’m hardworking, friendly, confident, outgoing and on time.”
To find business resources on becoming an Ability for Hire employer, click here for more information.
This post first appeared on the South Dakota Department of Human Services Rehabilitation Services’ stories page.
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