Tess Fahey cried when one of the keynote speakers at a DisABILITY Awareness Luncheon Thursday in South Bend used her story as an example of the benefits and blessings to employers who hire adults with disabilities.

Tess was one of 15 workers honored for their employment records. She and four others in the group receive job coaching services from ADEC Community Employment. The honorees, their families, employers and job coaches joined South Bend Rotarians at the Century Center for the 27th annual luncheon celebrating employees with disabilities and the employers who hire them.

Each honoree received a certificate, congratulations and applause. Tess and Larry Clingenpeel each were honored for working 20-plus years at their jobs, Larry at Steak N Shake and Tess at Target.

The two speakers, Sharon Hawkins and Mary Jo Ogren, shared their experiences as employers of adults whose
abilities overcome any disabilities.

“I’m a different person because of these experiences,” said Sharon, now senior HR Consultant at the University of Notre Dame. She hired Tess as a greeter at Target back in 1994. Twenty-one years later, Tess continues her employment there.

“She did this,” Sharon said, looking into the audience at Tess. “She had the confidence and ability to do this. It’s about abilities. Look at the abilities, not the disabilities.”

Commitment to the job and low turnover were just two of the reasons Sharon gave for employers to hire applicants with disabilities.

“Hats off to you for looking at the abilities these employees bring,” she told the audience.

ADEC Consumers Recognized

Ashley Bordon | Ivy Tech Food Court
Larry Clingenpeel | Steak N Shake
Tess Fahey | Target
Sarah Felton | Holy Cross House
Veronica Go | South Bend Clinic

Ashley Bordon 2

Ashley Bordon (center) poses with keynote speakers Sharon Hawkins and Mary Jo Ogren after receiving her certificate for successful employment at the Ivy Tech Food Court.

Tess Fahey

Tess Fahey (center) and her employers from Target receive their certificates. Tess also was recognized for completing 21 years of employment at Target.

Sarah Felton

Sarah Felton (center) is flanked by staff from Holy Cross House where she works.

Veronica Go (pictured above) stands between two of her employers from the South Bend Clinic and the keynote speakers.

See accompanying blog post, “Opportunities Matter,” to read remarks delivered by Mary Jo Ogren, one of the two keynote speakers.

Article by Nancy Miller | Mission Advancement Manager

Photos by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist