By Rich Henquinet
Rachel has several disabilities, including near-total blindness, but her determination is unwavering. Last year, Rachel partnered with JVS Chicago’s job development team to find a job. After brainstorming with Rachel and her mom, the goal became to search for positions in local restaurants where Rachel could roll silverware into linen napkins for four hours each week. Rachel’s mom created an apparatus to help her with this task. Using a modified picture frame as a guide, Rachel places the napkin inside the frame and by touch positions the silverware, then rolls the napkin.
Six months into her job search, after identifying and visiting 13 restaurants who wrap their silverware, JVS’s job developer was introduced to the catering manager of a local catering company in Rachel’s hometown. The catering manager didn’t have any opportunities for Rachel, but she gave the job developer the names of three local restaurants to visit. The job developer arranged interviews with management at each of them, and the third person, Derek Hanley, owner of Peggy Kinnane’s in Arlington Heights, hired Rachel on the spot.
The job developer explained to Derek the tasks Rachel could do, thus freeing up his staff to concentrate on their other pre-opening tasks. He agreed to meet her, with no obligations or expectations on either side. The following week Rachel’s job coach brought Rachel into the restaurant to meet Derek. Within minutes of meeting Rachel, he saw an opportunity for her in his business and asked her to join the team. Rachel promptly accepted, and with that she was issued a uniform top and asked to report to work in two weeks. Rachel is still on the team today and remains a productive and respected employee.