Finding a job is, well, it sucks. Competing against a pool of other applicants for a position that you’re laughably overqualified for isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but when you have a disability, the job market becomes exponentially more complicated. Sure, there are laws in place to prevent workplace discrimination based on disabilities. However, even with those safeguards, unemployment rates among people with disabilities are alarmingly high – but not for lack of trying.
Jordyn’s Deli in Falling Waters, West Virginia isn’t your typical deli. It’s impossible to tell based on this deli’s top-notch homemade pastrami, however, that something wonderful is happening behind the counter. You’d never know that your perfectly juicy pulled pork sandwich was carefully made by someone who was told no 100 times before finally receiving a thrilling “yes” from the Deli’s owner.
Bob Parks, the Deli’s owner, takes great pride in providing a positive and productive work environment for people with special needs.
“When I first started working here, I was nervous at first because it’s my first job, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to work here because I was applying for other places, and they would not hire special needs,” an employee named Angelina told WDVM. “If they did, it would be like janitorial jobs, and I would not like that because I want to do something that I can do as a person and be normal.”
Jordyn’s Deli recently found itself in the spotlight after Bob shared a story about Angelina, who is one of his most dedicated employees. Angelina was born with something called lumbosacral agenesis, a congenital abnormality that led to a double leg amputation when she was just 12 years old.
Angelina found a sense of community, purpose, and normalcy at Jordyn’s Deli, and with Bob’s support, she’s following dreams she didn’t know were possible. In a Facebook post that’s been shared over 14,000 times, Bob describes his touching dedication to employees like Angelina.
“When one of your best employees comes to you and says that in spite of all obstacles, they want to be a cook…you find a way to make it happen,” Bob explains. “You move a couple pieces of equipment around so she can reach. You take some wood, screws and the skills of a local craftsman (her grandfather) to make her a perch. And you step back to watch her live out a dream.”
“This is who we are,” he concludes. “This is what we do.”