Education, Employment, Healthy Lifestyle, Independence

We’re not closing, we’re evolving – a tribute to employment and change

Tonight, I saw a post about a young woman with down syndrome working as a cart attendant at a Kroger and how some customers treated her, but she kept her composure and did her job anyway.

Likewise, this was my first job 17 years ago. My job also included cleaning, trash removal and bagging groceries. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but at 18 and then making $5.15 an hour for 20 hours a week, I just did it as something to do. I only had the job for four months through a job shadowing program where the supporting agency paid the wages, something I later knew and now have a distaste for. Nonetheless it was work and when I was done I was glad.

Staying with that same organization for almost 17 years now, 16 at the same employment support program, and nearly ten years at my present employment position, I have garnered the skills necessary to work and am in what is now defined as a supported position and can have the position as long as I shall choose, and plan to do so.

Nonetheless, today is a monumental day as that store I first worked in 17 years ago hasn’t been under the same brand or management for 15 of those years, yet this day is bittersweet. The store is now a locally based store that has been around since 1947 in the hills of Appalachia started in humble beginnings in the founder’s home providing low frills and low cost food to those in need. Later that site would evolve in what we would know as a strip mall, but instead was the localized version of wooden building and roofed with tarpaper with haphazard construction. Nonetheless, it generated millions in nearly 50 years and as building code could no longer support it, the store I worked for would move to the county seat and become the flagship store of that owners set of stores under its brand.

However as the years would draw, I would continue to shop there, and memories would always remind me of where I stated my employment journey. That local business would open a mini store in the neighborhood some years before I moved here last year, and at that time when I first moved here you could sense a change as the building, a retrofitted office building terminated the leases of other tenants in the complex, before having constant construction over the past year.

Last summer an announcement was made that a bakery and cafe (like a Panera or Starbucks) would open adjacent to this store and it did with some fanfare a few months ago and I do like it as it is a nice addition to this neighborhood. However, in the mini-store and old supermarket, you could sense little by little change was happening.

Now I am not a liker of change, and this business as my local grocery supplier made this difficult. Things I ordered through the online grocery service were oftentimes unavailable. Things were moved in both, stores – often, I knew it was the beginning of the end

Then two weeks ago – the news came on Facebook

The store I started my employment in would be closed and operations would evolve between their first site as they constructed pole-type buildings there and the new bakery and the store in my neighborhood, which they claim would triple in size. Yet, everyday I visit the market to grab something and yet something is different, not to mention their old mentality of plastic and buckets on the floor to overstimulate the senses, let’s hope its a transition.

Nonetheless that supermarket that I worked in 17 years ago is closed for now, but as many things in our lives, we must put a close to the past and learn and grow from it – along with a evolving business that I grew up on, we must adapt and move on.

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