Angela Farabee works to collect donations for the Missouri Council of the Blind’s New Image thrift store in Springfield.
But, making and taking phone calls is more than just a job for Angela, it’s an accomplishment.
“I know from my own experiences it’s hard to get a job,” says Angela. “And I know when you have a disability because you have to overcome so many things.”
But there's someone that's helped Angela and other workers at the thrift store, their general manager Jeff La Monita. He's legally blind and completely inspirational.
“My disability; I don't consider it a disability at all,” says Jeff. “I look at it as if I’m just an average Joe.”
But Jeff is no average Joe at all. Despite what some consider a disability, he has a Bachelor of Science in meteorology, an Associates degree in psychology and he's a proud husband and father.
Today Jeff’s passion is this store. He started in inventory, helped grow the store and worked his way to management.
Now he works to help others with disabilities reach their goals and dreams.
“If we can confute to help folks come into the store and they volunteer and they gain the experience necessary to be successful in life,” says Jeff. “So we're just not here to fund the Missouri Council for the Blind, we're hear to outreach. Here to be an active member of the community as much as possible and for me, that is the biggest goal I have right now for our store.”
There are 35,000 blind individuals in Missouri and the thrift shop is the only one that funds the Missouri Council of the Blind. One hundred percent of donations go to the organization.
Not only does Jeff help those with disabilities get back to work, he also speaks to students at Drury University about overcoming any prejudices and stereotypes that exist.
“If we erase the blindness issue, Jeff is a positive force of life,” says Drury’s Dr. Dennis Edwards. “And when people learn of his disability and what he's overcome, and he has overcome significant obstacles...the fact that he does not feel sorry for himself, the fact that he gets the job done not only at the level that some people would perform but even at a higher level so that he can inspire others. That's pretty cool.”
For Angela and other workers striving to get ahead, they see Jeff as a true leader.
That way when they are out in the real world in front of the microscope in the labor market, they know what to expect.
For more information on the Missouri Council of the Blind, click here.
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