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Arc Thrift Stores create University degree program for disabled employees

7:08 PM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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She is like many of the intellectually or developmentally disabled employees that work for the Arc Thrift Stores. But now, thanks to her employer, the 43-year-old has that chance.

"Yeah, that's cool. That's gonna be cool," Espinoza said. 

With the help of a grant from The Daniels Fund, Arc Thrift Stores created a university degree program. It is a one-year course designed to teach the skills needed to live more independently.

"Many of our employees with disabilities have graduated from high school, but they haven't had an opportunity to move on and do other types of education," Louis Vaughn, director of human resources for Arc Thrift Stores, said.

Vaughn says these classes will help these students learn new skills along with confidence.

"We've gone all kinds of classes: personal finance, computer skills," Vaughn said. "Today, we're learning about food safety."

A nutritionist from the Volunteers of America is hosting a class teaching students how to handle meats and keep food work areas safe.

"They're regular life skills that you already know," Espinoza explained. "But, some people with special needs have trouble learning things. So, we have to learn things a little slower sometimes."

When the course is finished, students like Espinoza will get a chance at getting an actual college diploma.

"They really wanted to have that degree," Vaughn said. "That was very meaningful to them as a sense of accomplishment." 

Ezpinoza says getting a diploma is more than just a piece of paper.

"It's good to be the same as everybody else," she said."It's very important to feel good about yourself."

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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