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Dignity in work: Partnership puts people in productive jobs

The Emory Valley Center matches employees and employers in its Workforce Development Program

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The grocery store, Food City, and the non-profit, Emory Valley Center, both started in 1955. 

They have formed a partnership to provide people with the dignity of work. 

Her friends are what Terri enjoys most about her job at Food City in Oak Ridge. She also likes having a specific assignment she can accomplish.

"I clean the whole deli and I stock the coffee things and the silverware and the silverware at the salad bar," she said. 

There are some challenges.

"Standing on my feet all day. Two days a week, Monday and Wednesday," she said. 

Credit: WBIR
Terri keeps the deli area clean at the Oak Ridge Food City

Terri is part of the Workforce Development Program at the Emory Valley Center

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The non-profit supports people with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in East Tennessee. 

It matches workers like Terri with businesses like Food City. 

RELATED: Working in the community is a priority for people at Emory Valley Center

Store Manager Mark Sandburg said Terri started as a grocery bagger then moved to her current position in the deli. 

"We put her in a position that was a little more service oriented where she could be the face of the cafeteria and help customers with all of their needs in our deli operations," he said. 

Credit: WBIR
Food City moved her from bagging and cart collection to deli and salad bar responsibilities

Food City has a real commitment to this partnership. It's not only good business but it's also  the right thing to do.

"We put people in a position where they can succeed," he said. 

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A successful match is good for the employer and the employee.

Patrick McDonald is the Community Employment Manager at the Emory Valley Center. 

"They love to work. And they really have a bad day if they don't get to work," he said. 

Food City is one of 40 partners providing job and volunteer opportunities. If you think your business may want to get involved then check out this link.

RELATED: Connecting workers with disabilities to good jobs

Store Manager Mark Sandburg said, "It's certainly been a very productive partnership. I'll say that. We look forward to the continuation for many years to come."

There is dignity in work and delight in earning a paycheck.

Terri said, "I like going to stores and shopping."