ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) Inside Lowe’s in Elizabethton is no shortage of dedicated employees.
But perhaps one of the most hard-working is a local man who got the opportunity of a life-time: a job that has given him much more than just a paycheck.
For decades, Pascal Lewis has seen many doors close in his face as he is non-verbal with a developmental disability.
This year, Pascal was given his first chance to make a living thanks to Lowes and Core Services, an organization in Johnson City that connects people with special needs to life-changing job opportunities.
“Pascal is in his 60s and this is the first opportunity he has ever been given to work. He is rolling up on his eighth successful month here,” says Pascal’s job coach, James Hubbard, with Core Services.
Hubbard escorts Pascal to work three days a week. Together they clean the floors, wrangle shopping carts and dust appliances displayed in the store.
With every sweep of a broom and wipe of a cloth, comes independence for a worker who is finally treated just like everyone else.
“Pascal is held to those standards, the same as any other employee. We have a job to do when we come in and we do it to the best of our ability,” says Hubbard.
Core Services says their mission is making sure those with developmental and intellectual disabilities are valued, in and out of the workplace.
“A lot of the people we work with are people-pleasers. They like to please. So they will push themselves to please,” says Brian Kennedy, employment coordinator for Core Services.
Kennedy says the 19 individuals with varying disabilities that have landed employment through Core Services bring a lot to the table.
“They bring a good attitude, they bring good attendance, they actually help with morale. They’re just great workers,” says Kennedy.
Kennedy also believes this type of program fills a gap in our workforce.
“There is a need for employees right now. We have a three percent unemployment rate. There are a lot of entry level jobs out there that are going unfilled. There’s a resource. These guys with disabilities love these kind of jobs,” says Kennedy.
For Pascal, this job has not only helped his pocketbook.
“When you include someone, they start to open up. Pascal, when he came in, it was almost a fear of being around people, judgement. Pascal now gives hugs and shakes hands. Pascal now goes out of his way outside of work to engage people,” says Hubbard.
Core Services works with multiple restaurants and stores in the Tri-Cities region to employ others with special needs including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Food City, Ingles, Ruby Tuesday and Taco Bell.
More information about the work Core Services does for people with disabilities can be found on their website.
October serves as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which hopes to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.