By Mary Mayle
Posted Sep 29, 2018 at 5:54 PM
Steven Davis loves his job.
“I do maintenance, stocking, whatever needs to be done,” he said of his work with Enmarket Convenience Stores.
“It’s a good job. I’m really glad to have it.”
The feeling is mutual, said Enmarket district manager Hailey Grene, who supervises Davis.
“Steven is a Godsend,” she said. “He is a hard worker who does a wonderful job. And he came to us with the support of a job coach, which has made his transition even easier.”
That support comes from EmployAbility, an organization whose name is new but whose reputation in the community is grounded in years of support and service to those adults with developmental disabilities.
Ken Boyd, who came on as executive director of the Coastal Center for Developmental Services in early 2017, said it didn’t take long to realize that the longtime organization’s name didn’t really correlate with its mission.
“Simply stated, we train individuals with developmental disabilities for community jobs and community integration,” Boyd said. “We really felt that rebranding to EmployAbility, which we did in February, would help the community better understand what we do.”
The organization, which traces its roots to the early 1950s, currently serves more than 350 individuals, including 220 people working in the community and another 162 in such in-house operations as catering and print services designed to help train workers for outside employment. Nearly 50 more are in the organization’s day habilitation program.
Last year alone, EmployAbility worked with more than 200 local and area businesses, a number the organization expects to grow this year.
To that end, EmployAbility will host its first ever on-site fundraiser next month, offering potential employers and the community in general a close-up look at what it does and who it serves.
Flourish – a celebration of ability – is set for Oct. 11 in the gardens at EmployAbility on Eisenhower Drive.
“We were looking for an event that would allow us to introduce the organization, especially with our new name, to give the community a better sense of who we are, what we do and why we’re important – even if you don’t have someone in our services,” said Laura Lane McKinnon, EmployAbility’s director for organizational advancement.
“With Flourish, we’re shining the light on some of the programs we have here while giving our clients the opportunity to be an integral part of the event,” she said.
“For example, those in our horticultural training program are getting the gardens ready, our print shop has created the invitations, and our culinary training program participants will be catering the event.”
Antoine Kearney is excited to be playing a role that evening.
Kearney, who is in EmployAbility’s culinary arts training program, will be passing trays of hors d’oeuvres, as he has done for other events catered by EmployAbility.
“Antoine was part of our team at the Food and Wine Festival and Best of Savannah,” McKinnon said.
“He really enjoys the interaction and customer service side of the culinary industry.”
“I put the food on the trays and pass them during parties,” Kearney said. “I also like to sweep and mop and make sure everything is clean.”
He also loves cooking, especially making French fries, and hopes to find an outside job in food service.
His dream job?
“I want to work at Applebee’s,” he said, a smile lighting his face.
“Antoine is amazing,” said Angie Real, his job coach at EmployAbility. “He came to us just over a year ago, having never worked in a kitchen. He had no job skills whatsoever and now he’s ready to go into a community position.”
When Kearney does go to work, most likely in a restaurant or other food service position, he will have Real at his side for as long as it takes to get him comfortable and proficient in his new job. It’s one of many reasons employers turn to EmployAbility when they need to fill entry-level positions, McKinnon said.
Enmarket’s Grene agreed.
“I currently have three employees who came to us from EmployAbility and they are all excellent workers,” she said. “EmployAbility makes it so easy. They are just a phone call away if we have any issues.
“But the real beauty of it is that they are so well-trained and well-supported, we have had no issues.”