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When I started working at JARC eight and a half years ago, I worked in an administrative position in the human resources department. As I became familiar with the services provided and the staff from a demographic standpoint, I also got to know each staff member by name and face. While JARC is not a vocational provider of services, I learned that we employ people with developmental and physical disabilities. I didn’t think much of it at first. I came to learn that at that time the three employees I am thinking of had already been with our organization each for over a decade.
As I continued to do my job, supporting our 300 employees by requesting updated documentation, proof of personal auto insurance, running driving records, scheduling their required training, amongst other things, it became apparent to me that not only are these employees great staff, but they are the most reliable. If I requested a document, it was turned in within a week of my request. Scheduled for training? These staff always RSVP for their spot and never miss a training.
This shouldn’t be surprising, these are all expectations an employer should have for their employees. While we have processes in place giving people ample, and at times advance, notice for providing these documents, there are times when the deadline passes and disciplinary action must be taken in order to ensure our staff have everything they need to be able to provide services.
I could not understand how some employees could disregard the conditions of their employment. Many times it is required that these documents remain current in order to actually pull a shift. Then it dawned on me: our staff who have disabilities truly take their employment seriously. These are people who may not have had an opportunity for employment elsewhere, and they appreciate the opportunity to be a part of an organization. By working for us, they have found a meaningful contribution to society.
People with disabilities provide value to all aspects of the community. As an HR professional these staff have enriched my job, they have given me faith that some people appreciate the opportunity to work for an agency that supports staff as much as they support the people receiving services.