12/3/2012 6:05 PM
by Heidi Moore
Being physically or mentally challenged does not stop some local residents from trying to earn a honest days work. The Lillian James Learning Center has been helping their clients train and find jobs since the mid 80's.
"Since July 1st of this year we have had 15. We have placed all 15 in positions. Our clients are still working in the same position on a better position with the same company, so we have a very high success rate." Said Lisa Tanner, a vocational specialist and life skills teacher with the center.
Today marked the first day of work for Sophia resident Sam Johnson, who has been attending classes at the center for two months and has learned some valuable lessons.
"Job skills, interviews, how to do them well. Look them in the eyes, straight, not your head down." Johnson said.
Oak Hill resident Amanda Kirk landed a job at Café One Ten and is thankful for the help the center has given her.
"Miss Lisa taught me how to write and spell and clean tables off and fold silverware. That's my favorite thing to do."
Not only are the employees happy to have those opportunities they wouldn't normally have, local business owners are happy to employ them.
"The customers love her and we've all come to lover her so its just a good environment." Said Cafe One Ten owner Don Williams.
One of the best rewards for the newly hired is getting their own paycheck.
"I like to go to Wal*Mart and I like to have some CD's." Kirk said.
Johnson has his own plans for his first check.
"Save it, get my own house." He said.
Tanner says all of her clients want to work and are hard workers waiting for their chance to contribute.
"The one thing that we don't use is the word disability. One of the things I teach my clients is they just have abilities that haven't met the right opportunities yet." Tanner said.
Students are excited and willing to put their abilities to the test and Tanner considers each and every one of them a gift.