Tess Fahey and Lisa Henderson have been friends for 20 years. In that time, they have laughed together, butted heads, supported each other in difficult times, worked together to solve problems and helped mold each other into the people they are today.

Lisa Henderson, ADEC Employment Consultant, worked with Tess Fahey, an ADEC Employment Services client, to place her as a greeter with Target 20 years ago when Target was located on McKinley in South Bend.

Tess, who uses a wheelchair, would stand just inside the door with a support dog and greet everyone who entered. Target eventually phased out this position, and Tess took on a new customer service role. Using her motorized wheelchair, Tess makes the rounds in the store to see if anyone needs assistance locating merchandise. While the location has changed, Tess continues this job today.

“My day normal day is not normal,” Tess says of her work routine. “I get there, I take off my jacket in the employee area. I work from 11:30 to 4:00. I ask people if I can help them find something , and if I can’t, I go away.  I say, ‘Can I help you, ma’am? Can I help you find something, ma’am?’ If I don’t know where it is, I get on the walkie talkie and ask ‘Target Team Members, can you find _____________?’ Sometimes they help and sometimes I have to figure it out.”

When the Target location on McKinley in South Bend moved to the current University Park location in Mishawaka, it was a big change for Tess. The new store is much larger and contains a grocery section.

Tess worried about the size of the store and remembering where to find merchandise. Lisa thought it over and stepped in with a solution. She created a flip book with index cards. On each page, she listed a department heading and items on the shelves in that area. The flip book became a hit with the whole store!  Tess said having the flip book has given her a great reputation at the store, “People say, ‘she’s the one who knows where everything is.’”

The flip book also helped Tess to overcome a fear. Lisa remembers Tess avoiding the grocery section completely for years, “Tess has worked hard over the years to overcome her apprehension of this department. At first, she would just pass by the area in her wheelchair. Now she can go down the aisles and is more confident she knows where specific items are located.”

For Tess, having a job “means I don’t have to stay at home all day. I can be around people, be around my friends.”

One of those friends Tess looks forward to being around is Lisa. “We’ve been friends for like 20 years,” Tess says of her relationship with Lisa. “She’s been there as a friend when I’ve needed somebody and when I’ve needed help at work. Basically, I pass every test she gives . . . (to Lisa) you’ve trained me right.”

The support and understanding of Target management is one of the many reasons why Tess has been happily employed at Target for 20 years. Lisa shared how Target has made the effort to work with Tess when she is unable to get to work because her van is in for repairs or her motorized wheelchair is not working correctly. One thing Lisa especially appreciates about Target is how the employees work with Tess, “Many of the Target employees have become friends of Tess’ over the years and they offer her words of encouragement, help her remove her coat when she gets to work and help open doors for her so she can get out on the floor.”

In Lisa’s words, “This job site has been a true collaboration of teamwork between Tess, her employer, and ADEC Employment Services.”

For Tess, Target has been a great place to work. She said this of her 20 years there, “If they ever say, ‘would you want to work somewhere else?’ I’d say no. Dying is the only thing I wouldn’t want to do here [at Target].”

Article by Whitney Craig/ADEC Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett/ADEC Communications Specialist