New NJ site offering paid work, training to those with disabilities
Being in a wheelchair will not stop Lashamiek McPhatter from earning a real job in her community.
That's what the South Orange resident wants everyone to know as she takes a major step toward reaching that goal.
McPhatter, 27, is just one of the individuals with disabilities recently hired to perform custodial and other work inside the newest Daily Plan It location from Community Options, a nonprofit headquartered in Princeton.
Through the program, everyday businesses rent office space inside a building run by the nonprofit. Inside, residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities are the ones performing tasks from cleaning tables and stocking coffee cups, to administrative duties.
"The fact that I get to work now and get paid for what I'm doing is a blessing for me, because I know a lot of people in wheelchairs get turned down because they have a difference," McPhatter told New Jersey 101.5.
McPhatter is at the new operation in Wayne three days a week. For half the day, she's working, and for the other half, she's getting trained on job skills and how to engage with others.
"If you have a difference, it does not matter. You can do as much as an ambulatory person can do," McPhatter said.
Daily Plan It already has a footprint in Princeton, Moorestown and Morristown. According to Community Options President/CEO Robert Stack, demand for offices in these programs is very healthy — as of last week, the Wayne office had just one of eight spaces still available.
"The rent that is paid by the tenants is what we use in order to pay the people with disabilities to do the work that they do," Stack said. "They all make minimum wage or better."
Stack, who founded Community Options more than 30 years ago, said many of the individuals hired for Daily Plan It work may have not been able to earn a job elsewhere due to very limited work experience. Ideally, he said, on-site job training will allow these individuals to move on from Daily Plan It and land a better-paying job.
"Community Options believes that people with disabilities should be as independent as possible," Stack said. "We don't think they should be tax burdens, we think they should be taxpayers."
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.