The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) recently launched a new initiative along the lines of what we’ve been discussing here. Sunday and Monday Erin & I attended the 2016 Buddy Walk Conference. #DSWORKS was talked about a lot during the workshops and plenaries.
The group organized to march on Washington with the message that those with Down syndrome add much to the workplace and deserve the opportunity to work in the marketplace. The picture below was one of those sessions where we discussed the need for advocacy for those with Down syndrome entering the workforce.
I believe Furnace Hills Coffee is a unique business that provides an environment for those with developmental disabilities to shine and make a difference in the lives of many as they roast special coffee. Many of the men and women we met this past weekend with Down syndrome were making that kind of difference in their workplaces.
We were there representing our Buddy Walk Coffee blend. We serve those doing Buddy Walks and raising funds for their local Down syndrome associations. We had a great reception. Here’s Erin serving at our display. She was awesome. Lots of people enjoyed their conversations with her. Erin is a great advocate for our coffee products. She was also drinking as much as she was handing out — well not really — but did drink her fair share.
Find our Buddy Walk Products Below. A portion of every sale goes to support those with Down syndrome:
Last time we posted I discussed how my hunch that hiring people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) was key to a business’ success. It wasn’t an option. If a company is going to be all they can be then they need to hire those with IDD.
I ran across an empirical study that backed up my hunch. With permission of the research company we have put the research on our website as a free item you can order. Since it’s a PDF file you can down load it immediately. Report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity
I’ll be unpacking this great research over the next couple of weeks. Don’t forget that our special people at Furnace Hills Coffee roast special coffee. We believe we have the best coffee you can purchase, so shop for some today on our website (www.furnacehillscoffee.com).
Survey analysis of organizations that employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities found: 1) Companies hire people with IDD for business reasons and are rewarded with business benefits.
Multiple dividends are cited, including the addition of highly motivated employees, demonstrating an inclusive and diverse culture that’s attractive to critical talent pools, and improving customer satisfaction. 2) The profile of a worker with IDD reads like that of an ideal employee.
Descriptors of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities include: dependable, engaged, motivated, great attendance, attention to work quality, and high productivity. 3) Positive reactions from employers abound.
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say hiring workers with IDD has been a positive experience, and of those, nearly one-third say the experience has exceeded their expectations. 4) Challenges are fewer than expected and resources are greater than anticipated.
Employers report minimal difficulty with preconceived challenges, while support resources for a successful placement—like job profile matching and guided onboarding—are readily available.
Analysis of the data also revealed that success related to hiring workers with IDD is reflective of the level of commitment an organization has to diversity and inclusion (D&I). Integrating D&I as part of the overall organizational strategy—as opposed to addressing it as part of a compliance initiative, a general corporate social responsibility strategy, or simply not addressing it at all—is a critical first step—one that also has a positive
connection to market performance.
What do you think of this research? Does it change the way you think of hiring those with IDD? Can we work together to change the workplace landscape in America?
In my last blog I bragged about our three employees who have developmental disabilities. I compared them with those who are “normal” (Who really is normal?) and stated that ours stack up with the best.
So that got me thinking. Could this premise be true, Not having at least one person on your payroll with developmental disabilities makes you not as good as you could be if you did. Does that make sense? In other words if a company does not hire those with developmental disabilities they are choosing not to be as good as they could possibly be. To back up my premise I was scouring the internet for resources that might make my point. I found this one quoted below. It’s just the first three paragraphs, but it makes my point. I’ve included the link so you can read the article in its entirety.
Some of the world’s largest companies have launched initiatives to hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). For many businesses, it may have begun as a philanthropic project or public relations effort to repair their images in the community.
But these employers, large and small, are amazed to find that hiring these individuals amounts to far more than a feel-good gesture. It amounts to a smart business decision with enormous dividends.
Companies are rewarded with loyal employees with resilient work ethics and positive attitudes that are instilled into the entire team. The work environment becomes more inclusive and customers who frequent these businesses even report higher levels of satisfaction.
This blog post is just touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why employers should hire adults with developmental disabilities. Over the next several weeks I’ll be unpacking a report that supports this hunch I have about adding those with developmental disabilities to your work force is a benefit for your company.
So what about where you live. We live in Carroll County, Maryland. In talking to professionals at Good Will and the ARC they say there are 100’s of individuals with developmental disabilities that are unemployed in our county alone. Armed with excellent empirical data we can make the case for every business in our county to hire someone with a developmental disability. It’s a wise business decision.
In the mean time don’t forget about Furnace Hills Coffee. We have three talented dedicated adults who add so much to our coffee roasting business. Let’s spread the word that we want to improve the lot of businesses in our county, state and country by making sure they employ one of our children, friends, those who can add value to the commerce of this country.
Click on the picture below of Erin and order some of the best coffee you’ll ever taste in this region of the world. Roasted by Erin, Chris & Jason! We are so proud of them!
It has been a while since posting on this website. I have decided to start sharing on a regular basis our balance between coffee and people. You see Furnace Hills Coffee was started to provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities. Today we employ three people with developmental disabilities:
Erin has Down syndrome
Jason has Cerebral Palsy
Chris is Autistic
Our challenge to ourselves has been to roast the best coffees available showing the world that these disabilities don’t slow down our employees and in fact we can compete with anyone in the marketplace. I believe we are proving that challenge true! I truly believe that these three individuals roast and package some of the best specialty coffee you can drink in the USA. First let’s talk about what makes these three so special then later this week we’ll talk about why the coffee they roast is so special.
Erin: She has a passion for roasting special coffee. She calls our roastery her shop. When she can’t go into work she cries and tells me, “I have to work, that’s my job.” How many people do you know cry when they can’t go to work? How many people do you know call where they work their company? If we don’t get at least ten orders overnight she us upset and is concerned that there may be nothing for her to do that day. She loves the coffee named after her, Erin’s Breakfast Blend. In fact she calls it, “My Breakfast Blend.” Do you know of anyone who approaches there work like Erin does?
Jason: He loves working at Furnace Hills Coffee. He has a passion to see us succeed. He calls on organizations and companies who may be able to use our coffee in his spare time. He wants to be a part of ever special event we do. He comes to work happy and puts his full energy into all he does. Jason has Cerebral Palsy. Yet that has not stopped him from doing everything in the shop. He has learned work arounds when it comes to the tasks he’s been asked to perform. And he does it with joy! When did you know of an employee who worked on his/her own time to make the company a success?
Chris: Do your employees or co-workers include a secret ingredient in their work? Chris does. He includes a pinch of love. Wouldn’t it be great if our co-workers said something like this, “I have the presentation done all it needs now is a pinch of love.” That’s Chris for you. He’s another one who cries when he can’t come to work. Did you ever cry when you couldn’t come to work?
I will measure our special people against your people any day and I do believe we will come out on top.
This is especially dear to us since we have a daughter who has Down Syndrome. Erin will be 36 on March 21st. Just recently she has come home to live with us. She was living in a facility in the Midwest that has been her home for the last 13 1/2 years. She is enjoying being home. We have started a coffee roasting business out of our home. Very small scale. We need to start making some money, but she is really enjoying the whole process. She is our oldest and we love her dearly. We have been reading an awesome book titled: Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome: A Guide to Emotional and Behavioral Strengths and Challenges by Dennis McGuire and Brian Chicoine. We have found that these unique individuals have common character traits and strengths that are not found in the rest of us. They really can make a profound difference in the lives of those around them. If you don’t know someone with Down Syndrome I would encourage you to take the time to do that.
The image to the left is from the www.reecesrainbow.org site. This organization has a passion to see children with Down Syndrome become adopted. Perhaps you can help in their cause. What a great ministry they have to these little ones and the families they adopt.
Erin & Mandy
Here’s a photo of two of our daughters. Erin and Mandy in Wisconsin last year. Erin can operate a commercial grade dishwasher. She is better at word searches than I am and loves watching movies. We are so thankful she’s a part of our family.
Celebrate with us this year’s Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the time you take celebrating. Better yet get to know someone with Down’s.