Buddies at Work Day showcases disabled employee

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It can be hard enough to find a job, but imagine if you have a disability that discourages some employers from even considering you.

At one local restaurant, a special young woman is proving those with disabilities can still be successful employees.

Twenty six-year-old Josie Hazelwood has Down syndrome, but it hasn't stopped her from becoming what they call a crew member at a local fast food restaurant where she helps keep tables clean and ready for the next customer. "I clean the tables. I got a job. I got money. I got tips," she says.

Manager of Raising Cane's, Hank Douglas,  says Josie is a wonderful employee who is a pleasure to have on duty. "Josie is basically responsible for our lobby to make sure that it's maintained for our customers. So a lot of time she wipes down the tables after the guests leave, makes sure they're prepared for the next set of customers, that the lobby looks great. She is fantastic with our customers and our crews."

Josie is in the spotlight for what they call Best Buddies, Buddies at Work Day.  It's a day to showcase people like Josie who are making a contribution despite their disability as Megan Knapp explains.  "By all accounts Josie is loved here at Raising Cane's. She's been employed by Raisin Canes for more than two years and she's got a great relationship with her manager and with the crew here and the regulars who come in day in and day out."

It's hoped the Buddies at Work Program will encourage other employers to give workers like Josie a chance.  Said Knapp, "For the most part people with disabilities, they like structure, they like organization, and they like routine. They're very dependable. And so if you have a job that requires somebody who's very committed a person with a disability is probably going to succeed very well in that job."  Douglas says they were able to modify their program to suit her needs and their's.  As far as other employers he says, "I would definitely recommend it. We look forward to Josie continuing to having a great career with Raising Cane's and we look forward to her smile every day."

When employees like Josie are recognized for their abilities, it increases their self worth and improves quality of life by providing employment as well as the love and support of friends.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.