‘Empties for Empower’ gives job training for people with special needs

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local group is making sure people with disabilities are included in the work force by offering a job training program. ‘Empties for Empower’ gives people with special needs the chance to develop professional and social skills.

For anytime Jackie McGrath has heard she can’t do something, she’s now proving she can — one bottle and can at a time.

“I take intake, I help the wheelchairs and I help sort,” said Jackie McGrath who’s worked with Empower for 6 years.

McGrath works at the newest bottle and can redemption center at Meadowbrook Square in North Tonawanda. It’s part of the ‘Empties for Empower’ program which gives job training and coaching to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“I like working with the special needs,” said McGrath.

It’s paid job training through the state’s pre-vocational program, where people with specials needs learn customer service skills and money management.

Empower CEO Jeff Paterson says it’s important to make sure they’re interacting with others.

“People with disabilities are a part of our community, they should be a part of our community they shouldn’t be hidden away,” said Jeff Paterson.

Especially since, he says, many people who visit the redemption centers have never met anyone with a disability.

“We’re helping to knock down a lot of stereotypes and a lot of barriers in the community,” said Paterson.

Paterson says this is only the beginning of empowering people with special needs and giving them the skills and confidence to work in the real world.

“The goal is to have people not need us anymore,” said Paterson.

Paterson says his staff continues to work with people to get them settled into whatever job is a good fit for them. He says they’ve already had some success stories as some of the people in their program have found jobs at other places like local restaurants.

The bottle and can redemption centers are open for drop-off Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a 24-hour drop-off bin located outside of the Military Road location. For more information on Empower, click here.

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