NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Operating the forklift is the best part of Ron Pierce’s day. “[I] get out there, fresh air and just driving around is a lot of fun,” he told 10 On Your Side.
Pierce cleans, wraps and packs cable chords and remote controls for Cox Cable through a contract with Eggleston. The center in Norfolk employs about 500 people, most of whom have some type of disability.
“We have some great private partners that are willing to take a chance on people with disabilities, we’re looking for more,” said Eggleston Chief Operating Officer, Harry Misewicz.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than 10%.
Misewicz believes many companies misunderstand what it takes to bring a person with a disability onto their staff.
“They think it’s a lot they are going to have to invest; they’re going to have to install a ramp and those kind of things, but it’s not necessarily that. There are people with disabilities that could be placed anywhere in the community,” he said.
Traditionally, workers with disabilities have been pigeon-holed into low paying jobs when many are capable of much more.
Full-time workers with disabilities made nearly $6,300 a year less than those with no disability in Virginia, according to census data.
Eggleston is now setting up programs to help the higher functioning disabled in HVAC- plumbing and electrical work. They can also set up your business and the employee for success.
“It’s life-changing if somebody can get placed in the community with the proper support,” said Misewicz.
For Pierce, it’s not just earning a paycheck that pays the bills, it’s about a work family.
“They look up to me like a mentor you know.”
It drives him to work hard, and live to his full potential.