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Monarch recognizes businesses, individuals ahead of Support Inclusion Saturday

Contributed

Businesses everywhere seek skilled and talented employees.

Monarch, an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders, is answering the call and fulfilling the need by matching people with disabilities with local employers.

For the third consecutive year, Monarch will recognize Support Inclusion Saturday on March 23, to honor and recognize the businesses that offer inclusive hiring or programming for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness.

Monarch is encouraging Stanly residents to support inclusive companies and organizations listed on the Support Inclusion Saturday website on March 23.

More than a hundred North Carolina businesses are listed on the online Support Inclusion Saturday registry from coffee shops to retailers, gyms, cleaning companies and accounting firms. One business that is a testament to inclusive hiring and has been on the Support Inclusion Saturday registry since its inaugural year is Belk Department Store in Albemarle.

Monarch’s Stanly Industrial Services (SIS) day program supports five attendees who are a part of the team at their local Belk store, one of North Carolina’s oldest businesses, the nation’s largest private department store and one of the first companies Monarch signed to the registry for Support Inclusion Saturday.

SIS attendees Paula Riggins, Sheila Shoe, Mary Grace Thompson, Donna McLean and newest team member Coley Barringer are employed in a variety of areas at the store.

For the past eight years, Thompson, 30, has worked at Belk and currently assists in the shoe and baby departments and store offices. She said she makes sure everything is neat and tidy in her areas of responsibility.
Thompson enjoys being part of a team and the feeling of camaraderie.

“It feels pretty good. I enjoy talking to the managers,” she said.

Albemarle Belk Manager Rosalind Simmons, who has been at the Stanly County location for more than 10 years, has seen firsthand the dedication of the SIS employees, noting their hard work and dedication align with the company culture. She said they possess the attributes of exemplary employees.

“They are very hard workers and try to do their very best. They are very nice and kind not only to staff, but anyone they meet while working,” she said. “You can tell they love and are dedicated to what they do.”

Simmons said there is a two-fold bonus to the SIS day program attendees who are Belk employees: they are a pleasure to work with and it allows the department store chain to employ a talented and diverse staff.

Antwain Hamilton, a Monarch support coordinator who corresponds with Stanly County employers who hire day program attendees, estimates about 10 organizations in the county employ people who attend Monarch’s day program.

“Our day program participants who are employed are happier. They feel appreciated and are successful. They feel valued and they love their routine,” Hamilton observed. “Inclusive hiring is a win-win on both sides — for employee and employers.”

To nominate a business or organization for the Support Inclusion Saturday registry, sign up on the InclusionSaturday.org website. The registry is regularly updated and accessible year-round.

— Monarch