VISTA — The employees keep things running smoothly at Rodeos Meat Market all year long. But they are not all your typical employees — three of them have disabilities. During the month of March, nationally observed as Disability Awareness Month, these employees represent an example of people with disabilities breaking the mold and succeeding in many areas of life normally not expected of them.
The employees — Stephen Hollins, Tom Hunter, and Milo Bernes — are all program participants at The Arc of San Diego, a local nonprofit serving children and adults with disabilities. Through this organization, they have received job placement support and training. Both Hollins and Hunter have held their current jobs for several years and Milo has been there almost a year.
“My employees at Rodeos do a great job, whether they have a disability or not,” said Ruth Chavez, the market’s owner. “I hire people with disabilities because I know that they have many skills that can be put to good use and have found that they are incredibly loyal and dedicated employees, which are traits any boss would appreciate.”
Fellow employees and customers at Rodeos Market know Hunter as the friendly gentleman quick with a wave and a smile. Hunter enjoys working hard to receive his paycheck and likes to use his earnings to purchase coffee three times per week.
“He is our go-to guy when a section needs to be organized,” said Hunter’s job coach John Faulkner. “He is always willing to complete tasks that are out of the norm.”
“I like to talk with the customers and employees at Rodeos,” said Bernes, who is always the first to enter the store and greet the staff with a friendly “hello.” Bernes is always happy to do whatever is asked of him to the best of his ability, and is mainly responsible for gathering, sorting, and stocking supplies but is also often found doing a variety of tasks.
Hollins has been a dependable employee at Rodeos Market for nearly six years.
“Before starting at Rodeos Market, he used to refuse to attend community events, but he’s really blossomed through his work,” Faulkner said. “He even enjoys entertaining customers with a quick song and dance!”
March was officially recognized as Disability Awareness Month in a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan in 1987.