Gila County recently recognized Rim Country businesses that have hired workers facing the challenge of mental and physical disabilities as part of National Disabilty Month.
“More than 40 businesses in Gila County hire disabled adults,” said David Cadell, program manager of Gila Employment and Special Training (GEST).
Cadell handed out plaques and gift certificates to some of those businesses at a Gila County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Since 1975, GEST has assisted the disabled, working to fulfill its mission of preparing disabled adults for successful employment and daily living.
In Payson, Walmart, Chili’s, Safeway, Wendy’s, the Senior Center, the New Ewe, Dan Good Flooring, Chrisy’s Cottage and the First Assembly of God Church have worked with GEST.
For those adults eligible under the Arizona Department of Economic Security Vocational Rehabilitation Services, GEST teaches socialization, independence and employment skills.
Job coaches train employees how to meet the employer’s needs.
With their “Follow Along” program, GEST provides any special equipment or training a disabled employee might need on the job.
“We help them find a job, write a resumé and teach interview skills,” Cadell said. “If they need a bigger monitor or a special chair, we help them find that too.”
As disabled employees start work, GEST continues to mentor their progress. Additionally, they work on life skills such as shopping, budgeting, laundry and cleaning.
They also help a client find a place to live and negotiate a lease.
Joanne Conlin, executive director of the Senior Center has two disabled adults from the GEST program working for the center.
One GEST client works in the kitchen, the other in the Senior Thrift Shop.
“You try to find a place for them where they want to end up,” she said. “After working here, they have work experience and a resumé.”
For more information on the program, visit www.gilacountyaz.gov/communityservices/gest.