A new program is helping adults with special needs in our community find purpose.
New Advances for People with Disabilities is bringing the community closer together through the Supported Employment Program.
Benjamin Dircks is the first graduate of the program and after two weeks on the job at Donut Hut & Deli in downtown Bakersfield, he’s thriving as an employee and in a way an advocate.
“He’s really great. He’s a good worker,” said Johnny Pena, Co-owner of Donut Hut and Deli.
His time on the clock speaking volumes about the abilities of adults with special needs.
“I just want to contribute to part of the community and help show people that people with special needs and developmental disorders can do anything they set their minds to and they can have a job and hold one,” said Benjamin Dircks.
As an adult with special needs it isn’t easy finding employment, but Ben did.
“We get to give them foundational training that kind of prepares them for the workforce and then we get the opportunity to kind of advocate for them and with them and get them a placemat in the community,” said Kelsey Sill, Director of Supported Employment, NAPD.
“I have to say seeing the people every day with their smiles and I have an excellent boss and everything. I have an excellent job coach and everything else. I am staying pretty content working here,” Dircks said.
It doesn’t hurt that Ben loves doughnuts.
“Oh, I love doughnuts,” Dircks said.
However, something he might love just a little more is his new sense of purpose.
“Don’t listen to people. If you can set your mind to it you can do anything you want,” Dircks said.
You can find Donut Hut and Deli at 2401 M Street.
Open Monday-Saturday 4:00a.m. to noon.
You can catch Ben there Monday through Wednesday.
If you know of adults with special needs who could benefit from NAPD’s Supported Employment Program their service provider can refer them to the program.