They make minimum wage for picking up garbage, but the developmentally disabled people who work out of City Hall in Sand City have plenty of enthusiasm.
“It’s hard to keep them from coming to work even when they’re sick,” said Harvey Drone, public works foreman. “My biggest problem is keeping them from working in the rain.”
“I love it,” said Christine Gamble, 29, who has been on the crew for a year.
The city has been hiring the crews for 12 years and now works with Hope Services of Seaside.
“It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship,” said Michael Klein, Sand City’s police chief, who first suggested the program to the City Council.
Sand City and four other employers — McShane’s Nursery in Salinas, California State Parks, Interim Inc. and Claudio’s Specialty Breads in Castroville — will be honored Thursday by the Monterey County Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities, the Monterey County Workforce Investment Board and the One-Stop Career Center.
The Sand City workers pick up trash throughout the city, which is mostly shopping centers and industrial area. For the West End Festival in August, the crew offered to work on the weekend and was paid for the extra time.
“If it wasn’t for the Hope crew, the city would look blighted,” Klein said. Sand City, he said, “was the first city nationally to develop this type of relationship.”
A Hope worker has never been injured on the job, Klein said. The city takes care not to put them in dangerous situations. Depending on their abilities, some crew members will be assigned other jobs, such as painting a curb.
Turnover is low. Two members of the four-person team have been working together for more than eight years.
A program has been established in Seaside, where Klein worked for 23 years.
Sand City employs young people in the summer. Their disabilities are usually behavioral, not developmental.
“It builds their self-worth, not just job skills,” said Neila Saccullo-Filice, a coordinator for Hope Services, who uses the term “intellectual disability” to describe the workers. The agency serves more than 350 people, in a number of programs.
Claudio’s Specialty Breads in Castroville, which opened 20 years ago, has been hiring people from the Sun Street Centers drug rehabilitation program in Salinas.
Gayle Cantore, co-owner with her husband, Claudio, said, “Sometimes you get better employees because they’re getting a second chance.”
Some from Sun Street don’t work out, Cantore said, but that is true of others who have started at the commercial bakery.
People who succeed at Claudio’s are those who “have a willingness to learn,” Cantore said.
Employees have to learn to live with odd hours. Shifts at Claudio’s start between 8:30 p.m. and 7 a.m.
For Johnny Morris, a truck driver at Claudio’s, that means getting up at 2a.m. and starting work at 3a.m.
“It’s all right,” Morris said. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
Morris, 56, said he entered the program at Sun Street after a drug offense, and completed a six-month program. He then worked as a cook at Sun Street and took the job at Claudio’s two years ago.
He replaced another Sun Street graduate, who left for another job.
“They’re good people,” Morris said of the Claudio’s management.
Morris, who has experience in construction and as an iron worker, supplements his income with occasional construction jobs.
He lives across the street from Sun Street. The rent is good, he said, and allows him to help some people going through rehabilitation.
Lane Wallace can be reached at 646-4478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
·What: Employers Awards Recognition Luncheon, sponsored by Monterey County Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board and the One-Stop Career Center
·When: Noon Thursday
·Where: Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel, 1 Old Golf Course Road
·Cost: $35; RSVP to Hope Services, 758-0973 or email@example.com.
·Speaker: Kathy Martinez, U.S. Department of Labor assistant secretary for disability employment policy