Nowadays, the news is often filled with stories breaking the negative stigma about people with special needs and disabilities. More people are now becoming are aware that people with special needs are as capable as those without disabilities are. There are people with special needs who are showing the world the magnificent things they can do, and there are people who recognize and believe their strengths.
One of those is Amanda Cartagine, a businesswoman who is also a mother to a child with a special need. Amanda is a businesswoman who knows how capable people with special needs and disabilities are. Hence, her Pizza Inn employs people with special needs and disabilities, giving them an opportunity to earn money and to further hone their skills.
A lot of people applauded Amanda for having an inclusive and diverse workplace, but it seemed that one person was not pleased with Amanda’s decision.
Apparently, one customer had asked an employee with autism to refill a lettuce bowl in the salad area. The customer could not understand the fact that the staff was not trained to do what he was asking. He could not comprehend that there each employee have specific jobs to do.
The manager of the Pizza Inn patiently explained how things go around in the restaurant to the customer privately. “That’s not his job. We’ve trained him to do this and there are special circumstances,” The manager said.
Instead of being understanding, the customer began belittling the employees, the manager, and Amanda herself for employing workers with special needs.
The unsolicited criticism of the customer disgusted Amanda. Being a mother to a child with down syndrome, she knew very well that those with special needs are not useless nor incompetent like the way the customer painted them to be. They are simply people with special needs, who need a little more time, patience, and compassion for them to accomplish their tasks.
Amanda shared that it was her son who inspired her to hire a large number of people with special needs and disabilities to work with her in her Pizza Inn restaurant.
“We parents with special needs (children) are always faced with breaking down barriers, stigmas, teaching other people that our children are more like them, than different. If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace, when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable,” Amanda said, encouraging people to be more understanding and patient to those with special needs.
In fact, her son was the inspiration for hiring a large number of disabled people to work at her Pizza Inn restaurant.
Seconds before the difficult customer left the Pizza Inn, he shouted at the staff that they should hang a warning sign to inform people that they employ a lot of employees who have special needs and disabilities.
Following the advice of the rude customer, Amanda did hang a sign on the door of the Pizza Inn. The ‘warning’ reads as:
Unbelievably, that’s what Amanda did. Her sign read:
“We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire all of God’s children.”
Amanda stood firm to her advocacy, she wanted to let people know that she wholeheartedly supports her employees and does not regret employing them. “These are like my kids, and it made me angry. I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across.” Amanda said, sending a strong message to people like the difficult customer they had.
People have commended the restaurant owner for her stance. A reader said: ‘I am a big advocate for hiring special needs persons. They tend to be very loyal employees and once they learn their duties, they execute then to the letter without complaint. Most are very hard working and have a great attitude. As customers, we all need to exercise more patience, kindness, and understanding in all situations. My opinion anyways and what I try to always practice.’
Robert Hensel once said that there is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more. True to his words, with or without a special need or a disability, our potential is endless and limitless, especially when we are surrounded with people who have faith in our abilities. Fortunately to the staff of the Pizza Inn, they have Amanda right by their side!
Watch the video below to learn more about Amanda and the truly wonderful people who help keep her Pizza Inn up and running!
Photos and Video | WYFF News 4