Access II Independent Living Center, and the McDonald’s restaurant in Chillicothe, have built a successful employment partnership over the last 18 months, which has been a win-win situation for both organizations.

“All of the workers we’ve had have been great” said C.J. Myrick, first assistant manager. “They have been great work wise, personality wise, and it’s been fun to see them come out of their shells. Each person has their own unique personality.”

Since the partnership began in August of 2017, McDonald’s has employed four of Access II’s significantly disabled job seekers, who in the past have been difficult to place in community employment.

“It’s great to have an employer like McDonald’s in our community who values the importance of an inclusive workplace” said Jessica Adkins, Access II Marketing Director. “We are seeing so many benefits from this partnership, our job-seekers are gaining a sense of pride and accomplishment and it has increased their self-esteem. It benefits the employer because they are getting a loyal worker who really enjoys being there. It also infuses money in into the local economy because they have extra spending money and their tax contributions.”

Much of the success of this partnership can be credited to Access II employment specialist Karla Garner who has worked alongside McDonald’s management to assure that things run smoothly for everyone involved.

“In this particular employment program, each client has a personal job coach that accompanies them while they are on the jobsite” said Garner. “The job coaches are there to assure that everything gets done correctly and our clients have assistance if needed. It is designed to assist the person to be successful which has been a valuable asset to employers.”

Store manager Aaron Konopasek said the job coaches make all the difference.

“Knowing that Access II job coaches are hands on and working alongside them rather than sitting in the lobby has made their training go so smoothly and has taken a lot of worry off of our staff,” said Konopasek.

Although the employment partnership wasn’t something they were sure about at first they are encouraging other local businesses to get on board now that they have seen continued benefit for their restaurant and in the lives of their employees.

“Honestly I was hesitant at first, but I am so glad we took that step” said Myrick. “It was good to get out there and go for it, we have been nothing but impressed and blessed by this program and encourage other businesses to go for it too.”

McDonald’s isn’t the only business Access II has built a partnership with, the Youth Center in Chillicothe has also had success with the employment program. They have hired one of Access II’s clients to help prepare and serve lunch to their students.

“The kids really love to be around Melissa,” said Maizey Knifong, Director of the Youth Center. “Melissa loves interacting with the kids, and it’s been a very positive relationship not only for the kids, but also for her. The job coaches are great. They know our students by name, and they really are an asset to our team.”

Access II is currently looking for additional businesses in Chillicothe, Gallatin and surrounding areas who would like to become a partner in their employment programs.