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North Country businesses tops at hiring developmentally disabled workers


December 14, 2011
North Country businesses tops at hiring developmentally disabled workers

By Jeff Woodburn

jwoodburn@salmonpress.com

GORHAM North Country businesses were honored on Friday for employing a higher percentage of people with developmental disabilities than any place else in the state. Stephen Finnegan-Allen, Employment Coordinator for Northern Human Services, recognized over 50 area businesses and public and non-profit organizations for, as Finnegan-Allen said, "Focusing on abilities, not disabilities."

This fact is laudable, he noted, especially with the poor economy and the great economic disparity between southern and northern New Hampshire. These organizations, Finnegan-Allen said, "are opening doors of opportunity to our most vulnerable citizens" and are welcoming them as "truly valuable members of their community."

Employers said they are the beneficiaries because they get enthusiastic and dedicated employees. "They take pride in their work," said Danielle Pratt, Human Resources Director at Glen-based amusement park, Storyland, and "have lot of energy and are excited to be there."

Storyland usually hires five to six people with mental impairments and they work on the grounds crew or cleaning.

Jen Thompson has worked at the Royalty Inn for 20 years and she said "its fun." Her employer Donna Fortier, agrees. "You can't ask for a better worker," she said, "It's a lasting friendship."

Finnegan-Allen, who has worked locally with the developmentally disabled since 1979, recalled the progress made since the days when mentally impaired people were routinely institutionalized. Now, he said, we are moving toward "meaningful integration."

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