Part of our mission here at Casmir Care Services involves helping improve the quality of life for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Where possible, we help individuals we care for enter the mainstream and contribute to the community in different ways.
One of the more independent individuals in our care at Casmir Community Residential Homes holds a job. To protect her privacy, I’ll call her Gwendolyn. For her, besides the paycheck, the job offers a sense of purpose and helps connect her socially. It’s a justifiable source of pride.
Her role in Philly’s community
Since 2017, Gwendolyn has worked at Acme, the grocery store, as a bagger. When asked what she likes about her job, she says, “Going to work every day, getting out of the house.” Having a job makes her feel good, she says. She gets to see friends at work.
Gwendolyn seems to appreciate the chance to be of service. Her favorite part of the job, she says, is cleaning bathrooms every day.
According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, more than 3 in 4 employers surveyed ranked their employees with IDD as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance. While initially leery of hiring people with IDD, many employers saw their concerns dissolve after the employees came on board and they realized how good their productivity was.
She manages her daily routine
Punctuality is important to Gwendolyn. Holding a job means she has to take responsibility for clocking in on time. To get ready for work, she likes to get up early—at 5:30 am, then she takes a shower and gets dressed in her uniform.
To make sure she gets to work on time, she will leave the house an hour and a half to two hours before the time she is expected at work. That way, no matter what issues come up with SEPTA delays or traffic during her two-bus commute, she shows up on time without fail. Her work day stretches from 9 am to 2 pm or 3 pm. She works four days a week. But from week to week, her schedule changes.
When it comes to those schedules, Gwendolyn is super detail oriented, aware that certain days, like Sundays, the bus doesn’t run as often. And she plans around that to ensure she gets to work on time.
The benefits of inclusive employment
Every Friday is payday. She earns $9/hour, the typical rate for a bagger at Acme. And as an Acme worker, she qualifies for a discount of 10 percent off store brands and 5 percent off everything else.
Unlike some people with IDD, who have a special supervisor at work, she reports to the same person as everybody else. She thinks her boss likes her work, because he says she does a good job.
In the past, she worked at the convention center, cleaning bathrooms and collecting trash.
When Gwendolyn is not at work, she likes preparing for the next day of work, going shopping at the dollar store, and going to the movies.
“She has a great work ethic,” said Rachel, a Casmir supervisor. She takes what she does with pride. She likes to do her job well. She likes to keep her bosses happy. And she doesn’t like anything to stand in her way and make her late. Here’s hoping Gwendolyn’s workplace realizes how lucky they were to hire her.