June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Opening Our Businesses to Those With Special Needs

Some people have told me that the way they choose where to do the majority of their shopping is based upon the store where they can get as many things as they need without having to run to other stores for the “fill-ins.”

For that reason, ShopRite is definitely a store of choice for me as it carries so many different brands, with many of its own name brands having hashgacha. Even though our name is Glick I really do not need a can of tomato sauce (hypothetically) with my name on it that I would pay $1.69 for if I can buy ShopRite’s brand for 89 cents. I do wonder every once and awhile who those Glicks are.

Today when I was filling up my car with gas at Costco I thought about another reason to shop at specific stores, which I am sure most people never think about. Costco hires people with special needs. Yes, the man filling up my tank had what I imagined was a spastic hand that would be difficult for the average person to detect (especially since it was covered over with a glove), and when he asked me how much gas I needed and gave me my receipt with a “Have a nice day,” I realized right away that this man had special needs. Even more reason for me to shop at Costco and even more reason for me to shop at ShopRite. Both of these companies hire people despite their disabilities and find suitable positions for them in their stores.

No question that I am probably more sensitive to this situation than the average person, but isn’t it the responsibility for each one of us to sit back and think about this? As difficult as it might be to picture oneself with a sibling or child with special needs, imagine the torture or agony that families go through as their children complete their school-age years and then have little to look forward to in terms of what their next path should be. Many of them are capable of doing many different things, but how many of us actually take the time to consider including these special individuals in our offices, stores, restaurants, schools, etc.

It warms my heart each time I visit Lillian Lee’s Beauty Salon and happen to catch Nina, a lovely young woman who began job training at the salon through Yachad and has remained on the job working on her own. How many of our own readers have considered giving such a person a chance? I have spoken to Nina several times. Each time I acknowledge her she is so ecstatic that someone recognizes what she is doing.

How great it was that the Jewish Home hired people who had been trained through Yachad and were able to help them maintain their positions pre-COVID? In the majority of cases this has nothing to do with salary as much as it has to do with dignity. Why should a young man or woman who has siblings who reach the independent stages of their lives have to watch them from the sidelines as they establish their individual identities?

I am extremely realistic and believe that most such families are as well. All they are asking is that more chances are given to those who are “special.”

I know that the local community businesses have bent over backward to do what they can to include local “specials” in various capacities. I know it is very complicated, but perhaps we should be trying just a drop harder. I remember how great I felt when visiting Wegmans in Rochester and watching the “shopping cart” engineer happily do his job as he rounded up all of the carts in the parking lot and never hesitated to greet people with a huge smile. He had found his purpose. Not everyone with a special need has to do this type of job. Many can do filing, checking inventory and other jobs that require slightly more brain power. Do not judge someone’s capabilities based on what they look like. There are extremely gifted young and older people in the community who might be on the autism spectrum. How difficult would it be to give them jobs to enhance their capabilities? In some cases their math skills are for sure better than mine. How many of you know about Tourette syndrome? How frequently does one see someone with Tourette’s working in a public place?

Friends, don’t kid yourself, that person and all these people could be your very own children. The pain for parents watching their children grow and in many cases trying to make them believe that the future will be rosy is very real. We hope that more and more people will overcome the fear of having a “different-looking or -sounding” person in their businesses and will wake up to the fact that this is 2021, not 1950—when people were hidden and put into institutions because as families aged they had no choice but to do so. We are known to be a community of chesed. Let us show that the amazing outreach and training done by Yachad is not lost upon a young person reaching a certain age, but can be extended throughout his adulthood. Families have enough of a burden when having to deal with these situations. Let’s try to ease that burden a bit.

How great it would be, as we approach the Nine Days, to introspect and see what we can do as individuals and as companies to alleviate some of the pain that families, and even more importantly, their young people, feel when they are overlooked for a position that might suit them well but it is deemed that they “just might not fit in.”

By Nina Glick

 

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