By Gretchen Dann
Through The Arc’s Supported Employment Services, many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are able to find meaningful and often lasting employment in our community. Each individual is assigned a job coach, who provides support throughout the hiring process and helps with any on-the-job issues that may arise.
Among our many employment success stories, the story of Tom Keown shines especially bright! Tom recently received his gold watch for 20 years of employment with Boscov’s Department Store, where his role is recycling hangers and garbage.
Tom’s job coach, Christian Smith, has worked with him since July of 2011. Since then, Christian has seen Tom’s appreciation for his work and his role as not only an employee, but a Boscov’s family member, “He can be counted on to give you the latest scoop about the Phillies and have the same passion for his work.”
Maureen Yuhasz, Coordinator of Supported Employment, has worked with Tom for the past 11 years, and has truly seen him blossom in his role at Boscov’s. “Tom is extremely independent and knowledgeable regarding his job duties, and accepts new responsibilities with ease. He is a success story and he makes us proud to be a part of his life.”
Barry Shaak, Boscov’s store manager, has known Tom since he hired him over 20 years ago, and has nothing but great things to say about him. “One thing about Tommy- he is very aware. Sometimes people underestimate his intelligence. He’s a great guy. Everyone likes Tommy.”
Barry believes that when people with I/DD are matched with the right job, it helps them to have a sense of self worth. He would recommend hiring someone from The Arc to any employer. He made sure to remind us that Tommy, as he calls him, is an essential member of the Boscov’s team. His co-workers look after him, and they are also proud to work for a company that would give someone like Tom a chance.
When given the opportunity to be employed in their community, people with disabilities often become very dedicated and loyal long-term employees just like Tom. Not only does this experience provide the business with skilled employees and positive community relations, but it provides an unforgettable and rewarding experience for everyone involved.
The Arc is always looking for new employers who are interested in knowing more about our program and are willing to take a chance employing people with disabilities. Feel free to contact Maureen Yuhasz at: 609-485-0800 x225 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.