By Mark DeAngelis
Preparing for employment is like getting ready for a marathon. You need to understand what’s expected of you physically and be skilled in doing it — whether it’s shrink-wrapping, lifting, placing documents in a scanner or perhaps typing — but you also need to have a clear mental picture of what a job entails so you are sure it’s the right fit for you.
Part of getting our members in the right mindset for employment is showing them all of the different opportunities available in our community, and one of those is of course Walmart, one of our nation’s largest retailers.
Recently we visited the Walmart at 35th Avenue and Bethany Home Road with Gompers members Carolynn, Christine, Mary, Philip and Vanessa in attendance. Store representative Zaide took us around from department to department, explaining what happens in each one. We got to meet other staff and everyone was able to taste freshly made tortillas in the Deli area.
Mary was having a hard time walking around, so I asked Zaide if there was a battery-operated cart available for her. Zaide really went out of her way to get one for her, and that really made Mary’s day. In explaining the different areas of the store and the roles employees play in each one, Zaide was so helpful. She said we can come back any time and I explained to her that I was rotating clients so we would like to do that. Zaide has been a real positive representative for Walmart, as she volunteered to take our first group on a tour at the last minute several months ago when the Walmart rep who had scheduled the tour was not available. She also gave us a dozen cupcakes to take with us when we left.
Our members learned a lot at Walmart during their tour. Mary walked away understanding more about the process for making flour tortillas, and also about the variety of flowers and fertilizers in the Garden Department. “I thought the employees at Walmart are friendly and outgoing; they explained things simply so everyone can understand,” she added.
“I learned how much food they carry in their deli!” Carolynn exclaimed.
And, speaking of food, an unexpected bonus came in the form of an anonymous gentlemen shopping that day. He had asked Zaide about our group and, when he learned our purpose for being there, he donated $40 for the group to have lunch at McDonald’s. It was a perfect ending to an informative tour.
Mark DeAngelis is an Employment Services Supervisor who presently oversees safety and behavioral issues for approximately 40 members at Gompers Employment Services. DeAngelis has a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in visual impairment (certification) in the State of Arizona.