Nominated by Industries, Inc., a division of PHASE, Taco John’s in Cambridge was named an Outstanding Disability Employer by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation, MOHR, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.
“Employers who hire individuals with disabilities and work crews are important partners in our efforts to provide person-centered services that improve people’s lives in Minnesota,” says Julie Johnson, president of MOHR. The organization represents more than 100 disability service providers across the state.
Taco John’s has partnered with Industries for four years, both in hiring people with disabilities and in serving as a popular 10-day work assessment site, explains Industries Employment Services Manager Mary Barnes. Assessments give people the opportunity for job tryouts to help determine the type of work they’re interested in. “Taco John’s focuses on the individual’s strengths, not their disability,” said Barnes.
“Throughout my life, I have seen people with disabilities working in the community and being successful,” adds Taco John’s General Manager Tanya Wallace. The restaurant has hired four individuals with disabilities in the past four years, and two have been with the establishment for that entire time. Wallace said their roles are very important, providing the “face of the lobby.” Individuals from Industries stock the food and drink stations, clean and perform behind the scenes tasks.
Industries gives support to new hires and work assessments to make sure the individuals can complete tasks on their own and in a timely manner, Wallace explains. They are also on call to help when needed.
Barnes said Wallace takes the restaurant’s support a step further by attending her employees’ annual “team meetings,” with Industries. Wallace provides updates on work progress and suggestions to help each individual to better succeed on the job.
“Tanya brings so much compassion and patience to work with her each day, which drives that restaurant to be such a great place for the individuals we serve to work and thrive,” says Barnes.
Industries will present the award on behalf of MOHR at a special gathering scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on October 3 at Taco John’s, 225 Second Avenue Northeast in Cambridge.
Industries, Inc. has a mission to support people with disabilities and other challenges by providing training and employment services which result in greater independence in their communities. It offers effective, client-centered service utilizing a well-structured, individualized program plan based on each client’s needs, abilities and interests.
MOHR’s mission is advocate and support its nonprofit members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served. Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding work opportunities.
Celebrated every October, this year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” It celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. The national observance began under a different name in 1945.