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Jones Recognized as Workforce Inclusion Champion
Opportunities, Inc., a Fort-Atkinson, Wisconsin-based community rehabilitation program founded in 1966, is committed to ensuring community members with diverse abilities, including those with physical and intellectual disabilities, limited work experience, mental health, AODA issues, language challenges, economic disadvantages, employment dislocation, re-entry, and past military service, have a place to train, work and achieve independence. The organization recently bestowed Jones Dairy Farm with the Workforce Inclusion Champion Award for the employment of Thomas Atwater at the Jones Market.
According to Robin Kennedy, Vice President of Strategic Development for Opportunities, Inc., (pictured above, far right), “It’s been our privilege to formally recognize dozens of business partners across Southeastern Wisconsin for their efforts to employ and advance people with diverse abilities through this award program.”
Now let’s meet Thomas Atwater, and what makes him so special. It all started when Thomas worked a three-month stint at the Jones Market as a temporary helper in 2019. He enjoyed it so much that he returned to the Market when store hours normalized after Covid-19 in 2021. Today, as a Jones Market Assistant Helper, Thomas is an active team member who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Current responsibilities include delivering lunches to customers, dusting shelves, filling candy, placing stickers on products and bags, helping build gift boxes and really anything that needs attention.
Although Thomas only works four hours a week, he has made a huge impact at the store. For example, said Mariah Hadler, Company Store Sales & Marketing Manager, “Thomas offers outstanding customers service, lights up the room and makes everybody smile.” Added Leslie Willitz, Company Store Supervisor (pictured above with Thomas), “from his friendliness greeting customers to the way he helps with all the duties in the store, we really appreciate his effort every time he comes to work.”
According to Jeff Theder, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at Jones and an Opportunities, Inc. Board Member, “Providing an opportunity for a capable and affable young man like Thomas to work and learn skills, engage with our team members and customers, and gain a sense of independence and pride, is a win-win-win for all involved.”