Fayette Progressive Industries (FPI) has worked to change the lives of many Fayette County residents, including helping to build life-long relationships.
Through utilization of the Employment First initiative (EFI), an effort that helps developmentally disabled adults to find work, and the Bridges to Transition program, which teaches them applicable skills to join the workforce, many have found success. Whether to help them cultivate physical skills, such as mopping, folding or sorting, to social skills, such as learning to connect to customers or networking opportunities, FPI has worked for years to help raise the standard of living for disabled residents.
Chase Smith, a Fayette County resident, works at Rock-A-Bye Daycare in Washington C.H. and helps in many ways to take care of the children there. Due to his hearing impairment, Smith’s mother, Melissa, was on hand to help clarify and translate sign language during the interview.
“During his job, he plays with babies, cleans and plays outside with the children,” Melissa said. “He graduated from a school for the deaf where he volunteered at a number of places. He had learned to work with animals and the elderly so he learned a lot of the skills he needed while volunteering. After, he went to the Delaware Career Center for two years and earned a hospitality certificate.”
One of the biggest aspects that Smith has accomplished while in these various development programs was how to network and build relationships. Throughout his life Smith has met many people who have helped him to learn valuable skills and then these people helped to connect him to a job he could do. They referred him to a job after seeing his performance and thanks to their work and the relationships he built, Smith now has a steady job and steady pay.
“Chase did a lot of janitorial work and also worked in the infant room, but he also played with the kids and helped to occupy their time while at Rock-A-Bye Daycare,” Connie Matthews, retired director of Rocky-A-Bye, said in a phone interview recently. “He was a great worker, always on time and wanted to stay after and work more if he was needed. He was always so soothing to the children and was a great extra pair of hands with the kids. Chase was pleasant to have as a co-worker.”
Smith said he really enjoys his job, adding that he likes all parts of it. After already working so long to help people, he said he hopes to continue to help people in the future. Noted by his mother and boss, was Smith’s ability to be very helpful and the compassion for others he possesses. He offers this advice to others in his position: Find something you are good at and keep the determination to continue working.
“We really want employers to realize these individuals all possess skills, determination and ethics that they are looking for,” Betty Reisinger, community service specialist at Fayette Progressive, said. “All they need is a bit of guidance and some practice, and they can make the best employees at any business.”
This story is the fourth in a series that showcases the success stories of individuals within the county with disabilities who have faced adversity and grown through the process to become more independent adults. For more information about the programs described here and other programs, contact Fayette Progressive Industries at (740) 335-7453.