Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography
For more than four decades, Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled has helped individuals gain independence and improve quality of life. The programs and services have evolved to meet the needs of clients throughout the state. In Pulaski County, AEDD coordinates a workforce of 350 adults across a variety of industry sectors through the Jobs 4 You Program. The partnerships are strong and the results are measurable – creating a more equitable community for all Arkansans.
The Jobs 4 You Program aligns best practices, as required by the Department of Health & Human Services, with opportunities for employment that reflect individual interests and skills. This careful consideration and preliminary analysis process creates the most ideal environment for outcomes that are mutually beneficial. Vocational training as well as job placement, transportation and continued consultation complete the portfolio of services. From the supervisor, who meets with prospective businesses and shares the benefits of hiring through AEDD, to the state-certified job coach – progress is monitored with expectations of continued success.
Arkansas Enterprises for Developmentally Disabled Director of Development Debbie Grooms elaborates, “Jobs 4 You is the leading pioneer in the state to offer support for individuals with developmental disabilities by providing specialized employment training centers.” Collaboration with the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College Arts & Hospitality Management Institute and its 3D Program represents the inclusive nature of the organization’s mission fulfillment as well as complete community enrichment. The organization is a resource for potential students and provides scholarships to help make the program more accessible to clients. “Our continued partnership with Pulaski Technical College not only provides educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the Culinary Arts 3D Program, but we have the potential to expand the program into different areas of education that will offer a variety of career choices and increase the exposure of our clients to other students enrolled at the college.”
The University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Institute 3D Program is a comprehensive 18-month program. It offers AEDD clients a post-secondary education with a core curriculum that prepares students for employment in related industries. This renowned culinary, baking & pastry, hospitality and wine training center provides an ideal environment for learning skills that are necessary for workforce success. “The 3D Program not only gets our AEDD students ready for jobs, it changes a lot of the ideas that other students and instructors have about people with developmental differences – from reluctance to acceptance,” UA Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Institute 3D Program Director Ashley Bell explains. “They bring 150 percent effort to every project and that carries into their work in the community.”
This story of AEDD is one of empowerment. Clients that participate in the Jobs 4 You Program reflect the values and vision of the organization and its legacy of service. “We uphold our mission by meeting the needs of children and adults through programs and partnerships focused on education and employment,” Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled CEO & Executive Director Georganna Huddleston notes. “With the Jobs 4 You Program, we see people take pride in their jobs and enjoy the independence of earning a salary. Working improves social and cognitive abilities as well as better mental health and self-esteem. It follows our mission of providing the best quality of life.”
Shanelle Hall with The Waters of North Little Rock
“Work hard and success will come.”
Eric Gray with Allied Therapy
“Working keeps me motivated to reach my goals.”
LaSonya Hammonds with Taco Bell
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Don Walker with Walmart
“Always believe in yourself and you can achieve anything.”
Kim Gatewood with Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
“Always trust and believe you can do anything.”