In Arvada’s Five Parks neighborhood, an employer is working hard to make a difference in the community, one they hope lasts a lifetime.
And on Nov. 30, they’re being honored for it on …
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And on Nov. 30, they’re being honored for it on ABC’s "The Chew."
Steamer’s and Jacks Restaurant is home for many citizens, especially their staff of around 80, of which 40 are developmentally disabled. Founded by Athan Miller and Scott Parker in 2007, the company trains and employs adults with an array of developmental disabilities so they have the necessary skills to spring them into the workforce.
“They said on this season of 'The Chew' they are focusing on how food changes lives,” Miller said about their segment on the show. “They understood us.”
In late August, the restaurant got a call that staff couldn’t believe was real. It was ABC’s popular daytime food and recipe show asking if they could film them for their segment, “A different kind of jam.”
“I didn’t think it was real, that it wasn’t ABC, because it was so out of the blue,” Jenni Martins, executive director of jam production said. “We’re just a small restaurant in a small town, and now we’re in New York.”
Recognized for their efforts to not only employ developmentally disabled adults, but to help them build life skills to help them succeed in all their endeavors, in and outside of the workplace. The segment will feature the work of their prep kitchen, which challenges employees to learn: how to clean, do restaurant prep work, get along with their peers, time management, appropriate work behavior and other soft skills.
“The overall feeling here is to have fun while making a good product,” Josh Buckett, job coach and prep kitchen manager said of their jam production and kitchen work. “We have a good variety of staff, personalities and ways of relating to clients while their doing the job that’s specific to them.”
A little over a year ago, Miller and Parker launched the prep kitchen as a way to serve more people in the Arvada and Front Range communities. Since then the program has blossomed with its own line of jams and jellies, and more than 35 employees, like Rudy Whiteman-Jones, in the job training program and employed with the business.
“I really like this job,” she said while taking a break from finishing up jam production. The kitchen makes eight jams and sauces in a variety of flavors. “I like my staff that I get to work with — they’re really cool — and I am learning how to measure certain things. I do have a little help here and there but I’m doing things on my own.”
Every day, employees like Whiteman-Jones, come to the kitchen ready to work with a bright smile on their face, because for them, this work, this lifestyle - is a different kind of jam.
“It’s hard to describe what it’s like in here, and I want people to see,” Miller said. “It’s so neat.”
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