With resumes in hand, a CHANGE Inc. job developer followed Tifani Helmstetter, Brock Becker and Kelly Moquin to various booths at the 2013 Career Fair, looking for employment.
Becker has previous experience with clerical work at Miller and Hecker Law Firm. Helmstetter worked at Frisco Pub in Westminster busing tables and preparing appetizers. Moquin volunteers at two animal shelters and does data entry for a travel agent in TownMall.
While the three all have previous experience, they also have a limitation that can be challenging for employers to overcome: Each suffers from a developmental disability.
CHANGE Inc., a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities live more independent lives, works with more than 30 companies to hire their clients.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness month. Each client takes part in an 11-week workshop aiming to find employment for a few days a week.
Carroll Area Transit System takes care of transportation, Jim Mayola, a CHANGE Inc. job developer, said.
Part of his job is talking with employers to find the right fit for his clients. When speaking to employers, he asks them to think of the thing that their employees hate doing every week, or something that's too much to get to every week.
"It's really more than your guys can handle and get to, but they may not want to hire a full-time or even a part-time employee," he said.
Instead they hire people like Helmstetter, Becker and Moquin, who are taught the importance of flexibility in a job.
"I would do any work," Becker said, though his talents lie in clerical work.
Prior to the job fair, the group went over the list of employers at the job fair and outlined which ones would be good fits for them, the director of development for CHANGE Inc., Teresa Perrera, said.
She said the reason why CHANGE Inc. has been so successful in keeping their clients in one job is because Mayola looks for positions that interest the employee as well as the employer.
Employers can be hesitant to hire someone with a developmental disability, at least initially, she said.
"...[B]ut a lot of the time it stems from a bad experience," she said.
Sheri Scott, who works with CHANGE Inc., said in many ways, the anxieties job seekers feel at a job fair or before an interview can be more for her clients. She said for many clients, they know they have limitations and so does the employer.
"I think it's just compounded some of the time because they know how they're perceived," she said.
While Helmstetter is beginning a position at the Buttersburg Inn next month, and Moquin works in TownMall, the two both were seeking a second job Thursday.
Helmstetter said she likes to spend her wages on books and movies. Moquin likes to buy clothes, she said.
Rita Webster, the general manager of Sodexo, one of the companies that works with CHANGE Inc., said she's always been very happy with the developmentally disabled employees that work for her in the roughly two years she has been with the company. Sodexo is a food catering company used by McDaniel College. The company has worked with both The Arc Carroll County and CHANGE Inc. to find employment for the developmentally disabled.
She said most of the employees do dishes, prep food or bus tables.
When looking for a new employee, she said she looks for enthusiasm. Because all of the clients from CHANGE Inc. are excited to be at work every day, she said they lift the overall spirit of other employees at Sodexo.
Dave Baldwin, the owner of Furnace Hills Coffee Company, does not work with CHANGE Inc., but focuses on hiring employees with developmental disabilities. Baldwin and his wife started the coffee roasting business with an eye for their developmentally disabled daughter, Erin, to be an employee.
"As a business that's grown, we realized we can employ more developmentally disabled people, because we have a stronger platform to work from," Baldwin said.
The company now has three employees that are developmentally disabled who all roast about 400 pounds of coffee a week, he said. When he's searching for a new employee, the biggest thing he looks for is chemistry, he said.
He said he likes to know his employees are having fun, and that they're going to get along with each other. His current employees include a recent high school graduate, who Baldwin wanted to teach so he would be able to get his foot in the door, he said.
He said he learns from his employees all the time.
"It's such a breath of fresh air to watch them come in and they like to work, and they don't have to be told what to do," he said.
Mostly, Baldwin said he enjoys how much his employees enjoy their jobs.
"It just takes your breath away to see how they just love doing it and to see how productive they can be," he said.