40th anniversary-related event enables nonprofit to build a community one step at a time

Costa Mesa, California, August 2017 – Several Orange County locations of the Trader Joe’s grocery chain will receive the Extra Mile Award next month at the eighth edition of nonprofit Project Independence’s Walk for Independence, which will commemorate the organization’s 40th anniversary.  The Walk is set for September 9 at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa.

Trader Joe’s locations in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach and Orange are being lauded for their inclusive hiring practices and support of Project Independence’s Supported Employment program that finds meaningful jobs for people with development disabilities.  Currently five people with developmental disabilities are employed at the locations.

“We created the Extra Mile Award to applaud those who provide employment for people with developmental disabilities,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller. “They are setting an important example for other companies to follow. I know we can all agree that having a job, as well as friends, and home of your own are all intrinsic to a healthy, happy life.”

Marsteller said that the employment program is based on the idea that, in creating a successful job match, a person with a developmental disability can do the job he or she was hired to do. The nonprofit’s role is to provide whatever the person needs to be successful, from extra training, establishing priorities and creating task schedules, to educating employees at the job site and building natural supports.

Benefits to companies hiring people with development disabilities include earning potential tax credits of up to $9,000 for each person with a disability hired, creating a positive public image, lowering the turnover rate, saving time and money, enjoying positive, upbeat employees who are eager to learn, and improving customer loyalty.

Eighty-seven cents of every dollar raised by Project Independence through fundraising events like the walk go directly to support programs for people with developmental disabilities.

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org.