Connecting Businesses and People with Disabilities

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Tucked into the atrium of the Epic Center in downtown Wichita is a quaint little café called Parsnipity. Since opening in the fall 2016, owner Cynthia Wilson has had her fair share of hiring problems. She just couldn’t seem to find the right workers for the job. That was until Goodwill’s Blue Jean Bingo fundraising event.

While serving food as a first-time Blue Jean Bingo restaurant sponsor, Cynthia happened to pick up a Goodwill brochure. In it, she read about Goodwill’s mission and how they help people with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities in their Community Employment program. That’s when a light bulb went off.

Cynthia began to ask about how she could collaborate with Goodwill. As someone who is visually-impaired herself, Cynthia was interested in seeing the partnership come to life.

Enter Adina Simon, a Goodwill Community Employment program participant, who was excited about the possibility of a job at Parsnipity Café. She had more than three years of experience in restaurants and knew she wanted to get back into that line of work.

With the guidance of Goodwill Employment Training Specialist, Shonna Stringfellow, Adina started her first day of work in April. Although Adina’s job requires a lot of repetition, it is very important that she do it well to maintain a consistent product.

She helps roll and stuff lumpia, a Filipino egg roll that is fairly unique to the city of Wichita. So unique, in fact, that Cynthia has customers waiting in long lines at both her café and her mobile food truck, LumpiaPalooza, to purchase these little delights.

In the back room of Parsnipity, Adina takes careful consideration to the assembly and rolling of each and every lumpia. Her goal is to roll 100 lumpia per day. Adina has mastered the “envelope fold” and has become proficient in making 10 different flavors so far. This is truly a job she enjoys and takes great pride in.

“Adina’s personality is starting to shine as she becomes more comfortable and trusting of her supervisor and coworkers. She smiles every day and really enjoys her job,” Shonna said.

Adina’s speed and consistency, combined with a positive attitude and good work ethic, have made her a great addition to the team. What does Cynthia like the most about having her as an employee?

“Well, I think it’s pretty apparent. Her smile and her willingness to work,” she said.

Shonna, the Goodwill Employment Training Specialist, will continue to help Adina develop the skills required for the job with onsite training during the first 90 days of employment. For the next year, she’ll follow up with both Adina and Cynthia to make sure the arrangement is still working for everyone and to provide additional training and support.

If your business is interested in creating a more diverse workforce, email or call Curtis at 316.744.9291 for information about Goodwill’s Community Employment program.

You can visit Parsnipity Café Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 pm. at The Epic Center, 301 N. Main in Wichita. Visit LumpiaPalooza on Facebook to see where the food truck will be next!