A Salute to Mike on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

A Salute to Mike on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

My first job was working fast food.  It wasn’t a glamorous job… in fact, I could tell many stories about customers being exceptionally rude for no reason. But we had a great team that worked hard together to get through the mealtime rushes. 

The best teammate was Mike.  Mike was always there to fill in where necessary.  He greeted guests, cleared tables, scrubbed floors and was the guy to call when there was a big spill.  He always had a smile ready for everyone and worked hard every minute of his shift.  He kept us all going.  And even though he walked or rode his bike to work for his two-mile commute (year-round in Minnesota, no less), he was never late.  He’s worked in that restaurant for decades, and I’d bet his attendance was better than anyone else's.

Because Mike symbolizes for me the ideal teammate, I’m celebrating him today. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Mike is developmentally delayed.

This special designation has a very long history that stems from World War II.  If you’d like to learn more, visit the US Department of Labor’s website at

I hear a lot in my role here at WCI that there is a worker shortage.  I urge employers facing this shortage to see how they might modify some of their positions to help those facing barriers get that job done for you.  Perhaps that means some reasonable accommodations.  Perhaps it's changing the length or timing of a shift.  There are amazing organizations that can help employers look at the possibilities, such as Freedom Resource Center, Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Productive Alternatives and others. Chances are there is a Mike out there ready to join many employers' teams that will contribute to great morale and productivity.

So today I tip my hat to Mike, who taught me positivism and the importance of a good work ethic.  I hope I always live by his example.