Both of her regular jobs, as an assistant to the Athletic Director at Northern Kentucky University and as a 1st-grade teacher’s assistant, charged with helping the kids with reading and math, run the length of the school year. She begins officially next week at LA Fitness, tasked with maintaining the cleanliness of the workout equipment and locker rooms.
Most encouraging was how easy it was. Jillian walked from her apartment to LA Fitness, introduced herself, said she was seeking summer employment and immediately was given a tour of the place. She filled out an online application that night, and was hired a day later.
Kudos to LA Fitness. In our area (Cincinnati) there has been a lot of positive discussion re hiring people with disabilities. Last week, Kerry and I attended a hearing at Cincinnati City Hall on the subject. Person after person spoke of his or her job, the satisfaction they derived from earning a living and the respect it afforded them.
Equally important, employers praised the work ethic, loyalty and joy that their workers with disabilities brought to the workplace. The council committee members were impressed. Here’s what I told them, before a packed house in Council chambers.
“We’re only as good as the way we treat each other. When you hire a person with a disability, getting a reliable employee is only part of the bargain. You’re giving a job to someone who is grateful for the opportunity and will show that gratitude in different ways every day.
“Former NKU basketball coach Dave Bezold hired Jillian as a team manager her 2nd year at school there, five-plus years ago. Jillian was a manager for three years under Dave. Then the school fired him. Firing a head coach usually means also firing his whole staff,. When NKU let Dave go, they let Jillian go, too.
“I made one call to the first-year athletic director, wondering if Jillian might be retained. He was noncommittal. Then the kudos poured in. Staffers in the athletic department suggested that the AD rethink things. They cited Jillian’s positivity. They said they’d been better for knowing her, that her upbeat and caring nature often turned bad days around.
She got her job back.
Jillian takes two metro buses a day to get to NKU by 8:30 a.m., and two home. From the townhouse she shares with her husband in the suburbs, she rides downtown, then transfers. I’m not sure I could figure that out. Even if I could, after awhile I’d feel put upon having to do that every day. Jillian relishes it, to the point where we’ve told her she doesn’t have to set her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to catch the 7:10 bus.
She’s hardly unusual. All of us know this. Folks with disabilities have the big stuff right: Kindness, good humor, care for others. Employers want to help our kids, because our kids help them.
Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?
Congrats to Jillian, who will be guaranteed to have the cash to sustain the lifestyle to which she has been accustomed.
Translation: Reds games, Starbuck’s, Date Night, Penn Station and, oh yeah, her half of the rent.
Bigger Ups to LA Fitness. Thank you. You won’t be disappointed.
As always: Expect, Don’t Accept.
An Uncomplicated Life, my memoir of raising Jillian Daugherty Mavriplis, is available on all platforms at Amazon.com. Speaking requests for Jillian and me can be made via this website, or by calling 513-313-9981.