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General Manager of Mrs E's

“They take the job seriously and do a good job,” Mr. Maranell said of his employees with developmental disabilities.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

When he started the job tryout in school, a paraprofessional helped Tyler learn the grocery store job. Now 23, he’s become a trusted full-time employee.

 


 

General Manager of Mrs E'sNow Mr. Riddle, who has Autism, mild Intellectual Disability and Schizophrenia, is working a 40-hour week, has health insurance through the company, a 401(k) savings plan, and profit sharing.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

“I’m right in there with everybody else” could be said to be Colin Olenick’s life theme. “With a little bit of what I’d call ‘unorthodox help,’ I’ve been able to achieve much.”

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

Now 21, David works full-time as a medication aide in a senior center, has his own apartment, car, and computer, and plans to gain additional education to continue a career in health care.

 


LaDena Hempken

 

LaDena Hempken works daily with severely disabled adults, many of whom have multiple disabilities and for the most part are non-verbal.. She said the job -- the first paying job she has held in 12 years -- gives a purpose to her life.

 


Tammy Carrell

 

“I always want to learn more,“ said Employment Specialist Tammy Carrell, who works for KETCH in Wichita.. “But a lot of stuff you learn along the way. Each client is a different person.”

 


Katherine Carpenter

 

It wasn’t until she went to Valeo Behavioral Health Care in Topeka that Katherine Carpenter’s life made a major change for the better. The culmination of the improvement: a job at Brighton Place, brought on by help provided by Ms. Carpenter’s Employment Support Specialists at Valeo.

 


Patty Waters

 

As a Job Coach, or Employment Consultant, she finds employment for persons with developmental disabilities -- some with severe physical and mental limitations -- and then trains the newly-hired employees until they master the job.

 


Maureen Harvey

 

The first step in the process of finding employment for people with disabilities assigned to the agency is getting to know the client and the client’s preferences for employment, said Tish Gutierrez, and Employment Specialist for Johnson County Developmental Supports.

 


Kristen Farley

 

Kristen Farley, Employment Specialist Supervisor at Valeo in Topeka, said one of the joys of the job is to watch clients who find work change for the better. "They become more outgoing," she said.


General Manager of Mrs E's

It was during many discussions about Angela’s future employment possibilities that they came up with the idea of raising calves.


 

 

 

 

Employment1st.org is funded by the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities (KCDD). Design by Lawson Phillips Associates. Stories by Tim Hoyt. Photography by Lawson Phillips. Publication design by Arthur McCash and Lawson Phillips.

Bea at WorkBea Scott carries two large tote bags full of clean, folded towels on her lap as she pulls her wheelchair into the business. She’ll leave with different bags of at least the same size, full of towels that need cleaning.

It’s pick up and delivery day for Bea’s Business. This Monday, she’s at the Headlines Salon on 23rd Street in Lawrence, accompanied by personal assistant Becky Stakes, who drives the van with “Bea’s Business” printed on the side panels.

Bea, 30, who has cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities, has run a laundry service for beauty professionals since 2008. The Headlines Salon has been a steady customer for a year and a half.

The smile on Bea’s face as she greets salon owner Desiree Strecker shows how much Bea values the business. She talks to Ms. Strecker about the storm that hit Lawrence the night before, and her smile broadens as she accepts a payment check. .

“It’s a crazy storm, and hail too,” Bea says.

Ms. Strecker said she values the service Bea provides. She said she heard about the laundry business through one of Bea’s personal assistants. It’s a service the Headlines Salon very much appreciates.

“We really needed someone to do it,” Ms. Strecker said. “She’s doing a fantastic job.”

It was during a 2007 conference in Wichita on entrepreneurship for people with developmental disabilities that the idea for a laundry service for beauty salons began to take shape. Bea’s mother Saunny Scott, who adopted Bea when Bea was eight months old, said they really didn’t know the conference subject when they went; the trip was more of an opportunity for Bea to have a small vacation.

“And in some ways, the conference changed our lives,” Mrs. Scott said.

Mrs. Scott said after hearing entrepreneurial business success stories from others with developmental disabilities at the conference, they decided to give a specialized laundry service a go. Then they spent almost a year of planning and fund raising to get the business off the ground.

But Mrs. Scott said the impetus for Bea’s business also came from two other sources: The job training Bea received in high school, and the hair salon owner where Bea has her own hair done.

In some ways, Bea transitioned into the laundry business from what she learned at school.

“At Lawrence High School, the special ed kids did laundry for the Physical Education Program; washing, drying and folding towels,” Mrs. Scott said. “She did get good job experience.”

Then when Mrs. Scott was thinking about Bea’s future as Bea was getting her hair done, the owner of the salon volunteered business to the future entrepreneur. Mrs. Scott said Janine Colter, owner of the Hidden Jewel Hair Salon in Lawrence, was the first customer for Bea’s Business.

“She said ‘Bea can do my towels,’” Mrs. Scott said.

Besides the laundering service, Bea also works part-time at Cottonwood Inc., Developmental Disabilities Center in Lawrence.

Bea still has occasional outbursts, something Mrs. Scott said are less frequent now.

“When there’s no work, she’s unhappy,” Mrs. Scott said. “But the main thing is, she’s matured a lot.”

Becky Stakes, Bea’s personal assistant with Trinity In-Home Care, said Bea has been “a great employer” for her. Besides driving the van, Ms. Stakes helps Bea prepare for her work day in the morning, sometimes prepares meals, and drives her on other outings, such as to a dance they were attending this Monday.

“Once you get to know her, you’re friends forever,” Ms. Stakes said of working with Bea.

Ms. Stakes said she and the Scotts are working toward finding a duplex for the Scotts to live, with Bea on one side and her mom on the other. This, she said, would increase Bea’s independence by giving her a separate home near her mother while at the same time eliminating the problem of dealing with a second floor they currently have.

“It would help Bea become more independent; she would have her own space,” Ms. Stakes said. “Now, she can’t get up and down stairs with her wheelchair.”

The laundry room, with four large washing/drying machines on one side and a folding table on the other, opened in May 2008. The machines have a special sanitizing cycle necessary for cleaning beauty salon towels. The laundry room is an addition built on the side of the Scott house in Lawrence.

Funding for the house addition came from a special Social Security fund for persons with disabilities, while grant money from the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities paid for the washing machines and the initial stock of detergent. Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Services also was an important funding source for the business.

Mrs. Scott said they are in need of at least one more washing machine because of an increase in business recently, including a couple of recent additions.

One of those new businesses using Bea’s Business is Studio Alpha, a fitness center in a shopping center on Iowa Street in Lawrence. Owner Tyler Naylor said he heard about Bea’s through a friend that owns a beauty salon. Bea comes by to exchange clean towels for dirty towels every other Monday.

As Ms. Stakes pulls the van up to Studio Alpha, owner Tyler Naylor has a laundry bag ready. And after they exchange dirty towels for clean towels, Bea calls Mr. Naylor over to shake hands.

“You’re doing a great job,” Mr. Naylor tells her. “Keep up the good work.”