After working at a sheltered workshop for nearly 20 years, Joe decided it was time for a change.
“I have no objections to working [at the sheltered workshop]. They treated me like a person,” Joe said. “I just wanted to find something different.”
Now, nearly 20 years later, Joe has been successfully employed at Kmart in Cape Girardeau and works part time at the Cape Girardeau Country Club.
“They treat me like I’m a human being,” Joe said of his current employers.
Joe, 57, started at Kmart in March of 1995.
“Working at the workshop helped me,” Joe said. “I learned to be more independent.”
When he started at Kmart, Joe had a job coach for the first 90 days of his employment. The job coach trained Joe to do a variety of tasks, he said.
“After the job coach left, everything started falling into place,” Joe said.
When Joe first began he worked the weekends—Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. After about a year or two, he began working during the week.
“I worked in the shoe department unpacking shoes for two years,” he noted. “Then they moved me to the receiving department where I have been ever since.”
Joe’s current title at Kmart is Hard Lines Merchandiser. He is responsible for unloading trucks that come in, sweeping the floors to keep the receiving area clean, moving pallets, and a variety of other jobs.
After leaving VIP and getting a full-time job, Joe’s Social Security benefits were taken away. But that was okay, because he received a full package of benefits including health, dental and life insurance, and a 401K plan.
In addition to working at Kmart, Joe works part-time at the Cape Country Club.
“I am a dishwasher there, working in the kitchen,” he said, adding that he has been working there for the past six years.
Joe currently lives with his mother, helping to keep an eye on her. He rides his bike to both jobs in all kinds of weather. When it rains, he just pedals faster, he said. During the winter months, there are occasions that he is not able to go into work because of the snow or ice.
Joe has fond memories of working at the sheltered workshop, but is glad he chose the route he did.