SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Alsco Santa Rosa, a branch of Alsco Inc., the premier worldwide linen and uniform rental services company, recently earned recognition and an Excellence in Employment Award from the California Disability Services Association (CDSA) for hiring persons with developmental disabilities as valued employees within Alsco’s workforce. Over the past five years, the Alsco Santa Rosa branch has employed two individuals with intellectual disabilities and has offered opportunities to others. The California Human Development/disABILITY Services (CHD/disability Services) nominated Alsco for the award.
Alsco Santa Rosa hired Gabe Alcantar fresh out of SCOE, the school transition program in Santa Rosa. As part of his learning disability, Gabe initially had to cope with stress and taking direction, so CHD Job Coach Julie Branscomb helped Gabe navigate the Alsco orientation process and his daily job duties. Gabe began sorting linen atAlsco Santa Rosa’s laundry processing facility. As Gabe showed greater potential, Alsco cross-trained him to move around the plant, performing a variety of jobs.
“Alsco [Santa Rosa] has put Gabe in charge of most major duties in production, clean-up, and machine maintenance,” says Branscomb. Whenever an issue has arisen, she states, such as a miscommunication with co-workers or supervisors, Alsco sets up a team meeting that includes Gabe so everyone can be heard to clear up any issues. “This inclusion of Gabe in discussions has helped his ability to cope in a very high-paced, stressful environment,” says Branscomb.
“Yes, it’s a good business decision to have hired Gabe,” explains Alsco General Manager Frank Lopez. “It has worked out very well. When he first started, he kept to himself all the time. But now his co-workers really try to engage with him; they like him. Now Gabe can be found eating lunch out on the dock with the rest of the workers talking and laughing. They call him the “sheriff” out on the dock because he will check every out-going bag, and if there is a missing tag or information, he will catch it and send it back to be labeled.”
Branscomb adds that Alsco has taken extra measures to hire other employees with disabilities and lets each new employee find their niche on what jobs they do best, as well as accommodating flexible schedules as needed. Workers with a disability are teamed with another Alsco employee without disabilities and are paid a normal competitive wage, with opportunities for raises and extended hours during the busy summer season. Workers with disabilities are eligible for standard health, vision and retirement benefits. In addition, since Alsco is invested in staff longevity, workers receive cross training for variety and to build additional skills.
According to CHD/disABILITY Services, Alsco has hired three other referrals over the past year. Though all three chose to leave at the end of their three-month introductory period for various personal reasons, Alsco Santa Rosa says it would have continued working with these individuals, and has called CHD when an opening has come up to see if there are any clients who would be a good fit.“We like providing real jobs for capable people. We want to be able to give everybody a chance,” says Lopez.
About California Disability Services Association (CDSA): The Excellence in Employment Award program is sponsored and run by the California Disability Services Association (CDSA), which has been the voice of developmental disability service providers in California for more than 40 years. CDSA is a trade association representing 80-plus community-based, direct care providers whose common purpose is to help Californians with developmental disabilities lead productive and fulfilling lives of their choosing. These organizations serve 51,500 clients and employ some 19,000 people. For more information about CDSA, visit http://www.cal-dsa.org/.
About California Human Development (CHD)/disABILITY Services: California Human Development (CHD) is a non-profit organization and a leader in the War on Poverty for nearly five decades. First inspired in service to our state’s farmworkers, CHD now serves people of low income from many walks of life—giving 25,000 people a year in 31 Northern California counties a hand up to pursue the American dream. Developmental disabilities include, but are not limited to: autism, epilepsy, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and other severe, chronic disabilities. The CHD/disABILITY Services department has spent decades empowering its clients to grow, learn and succeed—preparing hardworking men and women of all levels of ABILITY to reach their potential and enjoy happier, more self-sufficient lives. To learn more about CHD/disABILITY Services, go to www.californiahumandevelopment.org/disability-services/.
Kelly Johnson Branch Manager Alsco Phoenix