WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) Sometimes it is our very own eyes that blind us. The unknown can be scary. But what if greatness, as many successful people have said, requires risk. You know, stepping outside your comfort zone. Ben Wright took an extraordinary risk in Wilmington. He walked away from Corporate America to be part of something bigger. To get meaningful work to those who are ‘Ready, Willing, and Able’.
“I love it here.” Jeffrie said. “It’s peaceful. Good clients and people and we work around a bunch of positive people. I like to work.”
“Hobbies are things you like, right? I like talking on the phone with my friends,” fellow employee Layton said.
“When you are getting ready for work, how does it feel?,” Daniel Seamans asked. “Oh, I feel so wonderful,” employee Katie replied.
“What would be your perfect dream job?,” Daniel asked. “To help Jason Aldean with the sound set for music,” Davis replied.
“That would be a really cool job!,” Daniel replied.
“Yes,” said a now smiling Davis.
Jeffrie, Layton, Katie, and Davis are four of the eight members that make up the Hospitality Team at Dye Creek Capital in Wilmington.
“So the risk was maybe my clients saying, Ben, this really isn’t for us,” Ben Wright said of hiring employees with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. “(What if they said)We’re going to go to someone else. And I said to my wife, Amy, you know if that happens, then I guess that means we have the wrong client. It turns out we have all the right clients.”
Ben Wright is President of Dye Creek Capital, an independent investment practice.
He is the father of four, two of whom are diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
“I started to look at the other people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community and what they were doing and it really concerned me,” Wright said. “I just saw this gaping void for these folks and I don’t want that for my children.”
A void. A disconnect with those who hire and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD, wanting to be hired.
A 2014 report by the Institute of Corporate Productivity says there’s an 85% unemployment rate among those with IDD.
So Ben is changing those statistics and telling the world why they should too, like in this recent interview with the Huffington Post.
“What I want people to do is, say hey, look, when I meet someone like Jeffrie or anyone of our employees is that they realize first and foremost that this is a person,” he told the Huffington Post interviewer.
“It’s really nice to have a good boss like Ben,” Layton laughed during our interview.
Ben hired Client Hospitality Associates like Layton. One of her duties while on the clock is to make snacks for clients.
“Because you know if you are around someone positive and smiling,” Layton said, “it will probably make you smile!”
Ben hired associates like Davis. “I like the job. It’s easy. I clean bathrooms, upstairs, and take out the trash. It’s a good job. I like it.”
“You can bring a person with IDD on staff and find something for them to do,” Ben said. “Whether it’s greeting people as they come in the door, to delivering packages, whatever they’re capable of doing and maybe they only work a couple hours a week.”
And that’s part of the example Ben is setting at his business. He’s starting a conversation that has, for the most part, been a silent one.
“When you come into Dye Creek, you need to shift into neutral. Come out of gear. And then when you meet that adult with IDD, you’ll know right away because you’re human what gear to put yourself in,” he said.
“It feels good,” Jeffrie said of being employed. “It feels real good to see that I’m trying my best and it shows when the client leaves and they feel happy that they came and went with a smile on their face visiting us.”
Even Ben’s wife, Amy, is part of the nationwide mission to open hearts and minds.
“I’ve started something called AbletoWorkUSA.ORG and that is a place where you can learn more about the training of poeple with disabilities and our matching system to help businesses find people,” Amy said.
They find people like Katie. “I am so wonderful, a fantastic person,” Katie proudly said. “I just hold in my life that my dreams really can come true.”
Her dream is coming true, thanks in part to Ben Wright’s decision to give someone a chance.
“I think when you say, I value them as people, then the acceptance and inclusion flows right in behind that,” Ben said.
It’s an inspiring start.
It’s a couple hours a week.
It’s a couple hours that mean much more than a paycheck to those who are Ready….Willing….and Able.
Employers/Employees looking for more information on getting meaningful work, click HERE.
Ben and Amy, you two are Extraordinary is so many ways. We’re lucky to have you in the community.