BUTTE – People with developmental disabilities not only have the ability to work — they want to work.
“I’ve been hired since day one and love every minute of it,” said Gail Stuart who works at the OMG Mongolian Grill in Butte.
About 20% of the staff at the restaurant have a disability and owners Tom and Kristi Cronnelly are encouraging other business owners to consider hiring those with disabilities.
“They get an employee that’s very loyal, they get a job coach that comes along with them, in some cases there’s federal government tax credits, work opportunity tax credits that are available that cover a percentage – depending on how many hours, it could cover almost all of the employee’s salary for the year,” said Tom Cronnelly.
He plans to spread the message by organizing workshops and job fairs in October to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
As parents of a child with a disability, the Cronnelly’s say employees with disabilities bring more than just a financial benefit.
“They are very loyal, they are advocates for your business, they are so proud to be employed, let alone being employed at your business, they have a very positive impact on the morale of your business,” Cronnellly said.
“I just love this job, just love it at all, this is just great workers and great bosses and I just couldn’t be happier to work here,” said OMG employee Jalee Foley/
Those with disabilities say they not only enjoy this work, but it’s also therapeutic.
“It kind of helps you to understand things and all kinds of stuff,” said Foley.
Those with disabilities also would like employers to know that they are more than capable of doing any work required.
“Anybody with a disability, you know, is more than capable of learning. You just got to take the extra time with them,” Stuart said.
“Just give them a chance because, I bet they’ll do good and they’ll work very, very hard like me,” Foley added.
Cronnelly plans to hold a workshop on Oct. 24th at the OMG location on North Main Street to showcase the benefits and value of hiring disabled employees.
-John Emeigh reporting for MTN News