National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which serves as a time to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. We knew this was a perfect time to acknowledge some of our incredible team members, and to reflect on the evolution of one of our favorite regional partnerships.

For over a decade, the Parkhurst Dining team at Maryland Institute College of Art has proudly provided competitive, integrated employment opportunities to people with varying abilities. In partnership with Chimes, these individuals have the opportunity to gain real world working experience while making at least minimum wage.  This seven-day-a-week operation provides opportunities for people to work as utility workers, assist college students, experience food service operations, and create meaningful relationships with their peers and colleagues.

The mission of Chimes is to help people with disabilities engage more fully in life’s opportunities, to provide employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities, and to support and promote the overall health and well-being of people by helping them understand, manage, and overcome problems.

More recently during the course of this partnership, the Chimes Employment Services team met with the Parkhurst at MICA management team to discuss competitive integrated employment and the importance of hiring people with varying abilities, which resulted in 5 direct hires as official members of the Parkhurst team. The overwhelming success – for the employees, Chimes, and Parkhurst – ultimately sparked a new partnership between Chimes and MICA directly. Of our partnership, Associate Director of Employment Services Douglas Smith says, “It’s amazing to see how much the relationship between Chimes and Parkhurst has grown over the years. We’re excited to explore this new direction with Parkhurst and grateful to have a community employer that helps support our mission at Chimes.” Despite the challenges of the pandemic and inevitable temporary furloughs, our Parkhurst at MICA Management team was thrilled to welcome back all 5 members of the original Chimes dream team, with an additional recent hire as well. We’re thrilled about what the future holds!

“It’s amazing to see how much the relationship between Chimes and Parkhurst has grown over the years. We’re excited to explore this new direction with Parkhurst and grateful to have a community employer that helps support our mission at Chimes.” 

Douglas Smith, Associate Director of Employment Services at Chimes

The best way to illustrate the mutually beneficial impact that the Chimes program has on its individuals and partners? Easy – just have a chat with a member of the team.

Lakisha

Joined the Parkhurst at MICA Team: 2016

Roles and responsibilities: Washing all the kitchen dishes, pots, pans, and beyond in the pot room. When she has downtime, she helps sweep, mop, and jumps in anywhere else she can help her team members!

Favorite thing about working at Parkhurst Dining: “The whole thing.”

“My favorite part about working with Kisha is you know she will do a great job, and you know she is all caught up on dishes when you see her roaming with a broom and dust pan, mop bucket, or asking her supervisor what else she can do to help.” – General Manager Corey

Donnell

Joined the Parkhurst at MICA Team: 2005

Roles and responsibilities: Washing all the plates, cups, silverware and other china in the dish room, as well as separating any garbage that comes in between trash and compost.  He helps pull trash from around the dining hall, fills ice bins in soda machines, mops the floors, and puts out clean dishes.

Favorite thing about working at Parkhurst Dining: Doing the dishes, mopping the floor, and shift meals!

“Donnell is a very hard worker, who manages to keep a smile on his face no matter what.  He helps create smiles while working through helping other team members and joking with staff.  He is an asset every time he clocks in to work.” – General Manager Corey

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