DOLGEVILLE — A pair of local businesses has been recognized by the state for their efforts in hiring employees with disabilities.
With October marking National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the New York State Education Department has honored 75 businesses statewide for notable contributions in employing disabled employees.
Licari’s Big M Hometown Market in Dolgeville and Brown’s Collision auto body shop in Amsterdam were among the regional winners chosen by the state, with Dolgeville Big M Manager Jay Countryman saying on Wednesday that the store was elated to be recognized by the state.
“We’re ecstatic about this,” he said. “We’re a quiet little rural village, and to turn around and to have these kids come in and train them and teach them and let them know how things happen in the grocery industry is great. These kids have a lot of great capabilities. It’s a good experience for them to socialize with the public and with other employees, and we treat them as one of our own.”
Countryman said the supermarket prioritizes offering opportunities to disabled workers.
“You can ask these employees to do any tasks that need to be done and they can do it,” he said. “They come to work on time and they give me 150 percent when they’re here. I can’t ask for any more than that.”
Countryman said the supermarket has three disabled employees currently out of a staff of approximately 35 workers.
The grocery store works with the Career Connections staffing firm to find disabled individuals for prospective employment at the market.
“It’s an awesome program,” Countryman said. “There’s a job coach that comes in and works with them for a week or two to just familiarize them with myself and the staff. We give them a trial period to see how they do.”
State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa praised the honorees for fostering inclusive work environments.
“The businesses being honored this month set the standard for prioritizing a diverse workforce,” Rosa noted in a statement. “When given the opportunity, individuals with disabilities make great employees, and we celebrate these New York State businesses that have adopted equitable and inclusive hiring practices. The Board of Regents and State Education Department are grateful for the important work of our Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services — Vocational Rehabilitation team and our partners who support individuals with disabilities in finding employment opportunities.”
The 75 honorees will be recognized throughout the month in a series of virtual events.
“They’re very good with the public and they do an awesome job with what we ask them to do,” Countryman said of the market’s disabled employees. “They’re just hard-working individuals.”