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PCCS clients enjoy a variety of jobs

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maria Pineda, 32, wipes off a counter in the lobby of the Greencastle McDonald's. Pineda, who has been with her job for five years, was placed through Putnam County Comprehensive Services' Supported Employment Program. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
GREENCASTLE -- Sixty-one-year old Norman Flora busily bagged groceries at the Greencastle Kroger store on a recent afternoon.

"Thank you," he said cheerfully to each customer, "You have a nice day."

Flora, who is mildly developmentally disabled, was placed in his job through Putnam County Comprehensive Services' Supported Employment program.

"I do a lot of things," Flora said. "I sack groceries, clean up messes and get carts."

Flora has worked in the grocery business for a long time. He has been at Kroger for several years, and before that he worked at Lo Bill's in Greencastle for 10 years.

He works an average of 25 hours a week at Kroger.

"It ain't bad," he said with a smile. "If I make it to 67 I can retire."

During the warmer months, Flora rides a bicycle or scooter to work. In the winter, PCCS provides his transportation.

PCCS client Norman Flora, 61, bags groceries at the Greencastle Kroger store. Flora was placed in his job at Kroger through the Supported Employment program at Putnam County Comprehensive Services. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
"I do OK," he said.

Flora lives in a house he purchased.

"I live by myself, but I have a kitty to keep me company," he said. "I like my house. I got a lawn and a washer and dryer. I go out sometimes to visit my neighbors ... I live in a nice neighborhood."

In his spare time, Flora keeps busy with odd jobs. He picks up aluminum cans, mows yards and rakes leaves.

"I like to help people out once in a while," he said.

He enjoys music and plays the guitar and harmonica.

Flora's mother, with whom he had lived, passed away in 1996. His father died in 1963.

Flora has a sister who lives in Clay County, and he goes to visit with her on occasion.

"I like to go down to my sister's and go fishing," he said.

Flora likes to watch television. His favorite programs include "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke."

"I like cowboy shows," he said.

He also likes to cook.

"I can make hamburgers and steak," he said.

Although he lives on his own, staff members from Comprehensive Services check in on Flora.

"They check on my house and help me with cleaning, hygiene, paying my bills and things like that," he said.

Maria Pineda, 32, also got her job through the Supported Employment program at PCCS. She has worked at the McDonald's in Greencastle for five years.

"This is my first job," she said proudly. "I clean up in the lobby and do up boxes."

Pineda works four or five days a week. Her shifts normally begin at 11 a.m., and she works anywhere from three to five hours.

"She's a good girl," said Bobby Hopper, the general manager of the McDonald's where Pineda works.

Pineda is truly happy in her job.

"I've made new friends there," she said.

Pineda, who is mildly developmentally disabled and also suffers from profound hearing loss, lives in an apartment with her mother, Jan Lyon. She has had surgeries on her ears, but is still extremely hard of hearing and wears hearing aids in both ears.

"I moved to Greencastle when I was 14 or 15," she said. "I graduated from Greencastle High School in 1997."

Pineda enjoys going bowling.

"We have a group here that goes to Terre Haute to bowl," she said.

She also has a boyfriend. He works at the shop at PCCS.

In her spare time, Pineda enjoys watching television shows like "Full House," "Hannah Montana" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

She also likes to help her mother out around the apartment they share.

"I help her cook dinner," Pineda said.

Two of Pineda's greatest loves are her dogs -- Nicki, a Beagle-Chihuahua mix, and Shorty, a Chihuahua.

"I spend a lot of time taking care of them and playing with them," she said.

Ed Bruner serves as a job coach for both Flora and Pineda.

"Initially, I get with the client and go over with them what they can and want to do," he said. "If they don't want to do it, it's not going to work out. It has to be a good fit."

On the average, Bruner said, the clients he works with are at their jobs about 25 hours per week. The age range of his clients is 21-62.

"I love doing what I do," Bruner said. "If I didn't, I sure wouldn't have been here for 15 years."

Bruner also helps clients find volunteer opportunities. PCCS clients volunteer at such places as the Putnam County Library and the A-Way Home Shelter.

Bruner finds his job extremely fulfilling.

"You won't get rich money-wise doing this, but you can't put a dollar amount on what you get out of helping these clients," he said. "Part of our mission is to educate the public about all they have to offer ... and that's a lot."

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Wonderful story because these are wonderful people. They may be mildly developmentally disabled but if you know them they are so friendly and helpful. They always have a smile for you and will never forget you. I have worked with many when they were kids. We called the Special Ed.----and believe me, they name suits them but they are all very special!!!!

-- Posted by interested party on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 7:58 AM

Isnt it amazing ! Makes you wonder what the true potential for the average person really is. My hat is off to these " special" people, seems like they have more pride and a better work ethic than the " normal" people out there these days

-- Posted by undercoverbrother on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 9:07 AM

these people are to be congratulated and respected. they are very willing workers and often times, perform duties that a lot of people would not do. Although they would qualify for a lot of government aid, they chose to work and contribute to society. Congratulations to them and the next time you see them at work, tell them how much you appreciate them.

-- Posted by albert on Wed, Sep 29, 2010, at 11:01 AM

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