Jimmy Dietrich has a dream of starting his own business one day, complete with a workshop, machine shop and office, where he can fix and make things with a staff of close friends. To get started, he said, he’s working to save up for a truck and a trailer. The goal: to help people, and eventually, he added, meet a lady with whom he can share his success.
“I like helping everyone,” he said. “And right now, I’m trying to work my way up so I can help more people.”
For more than a year, Jimmy has been working at Brothers Services Company, one of Maryland’s top roofing and remodeling companies based in Hampstead. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jimmy is among only “17.9 percent of persons with a disability employed in the U.S.” – a statistic that reflects the major barriers to employment and full social inclusion for men and women with disabilities.
Through its Community Employment program, Penn-Mar is working to shatter those barriers and believes anyone with a disability who wants to work, like Jimmy, can and should have the opportunity. Penn-Mar’s customized approach to employment involves tapping into an individual’s talents and skills through an “Exploration and Discovery” process and matching them with the needs of an employer to fill a specific job.
“Working with Jimmy through exploration and discovery really pushed us to be innovative, when it came to finding him the right job,” said Gary Madigan, Penn-Mar Business Development Manager, and former Community Employment Manager. “I always say – the right job for the right person is going to take the right amount of time.”
Gary advocated for Jimmy for several years and prior to Brothers, helped him land jobs at Sea Solar Power and Lowes. The former involved janitorial work, which, Gary said, ultimately proved not to be challenging enough for Jimmy, who likes working with his hands and being around people. The job at Lowes was much more hands-on, but turned out to be seasonal and Jimmy wanted much more than that.
“Like anybody, Jimmy wants to feel like he’s part of a team,” said Gary. “He wants to be ‘one of the guys’ and will jump in and get his hands dirty. Brothers was an opportunity for him to put his ability out on show.”
“All the right elements came together in a bigger, better job opportunity for Jimmy,” summed up Gary, who credits Brothers CEO John Martindale for the opportunity and reaching out to Penn-Mar through his friend Tim Chase, a member of Penn-Mar’s board of directors.
At Brothers, Jimmy works in the warehouse assisting with everything from preparing orders, stocking materials, breaking down boxes, to sweeping the facility’s parking lot with a large magnet on wheels collecting nails and other metals that may have fallen off the trucks, and which as Gordy Warehime Jr., the company’s Fleet, Facilities and Warehouse Manager noted, “we don’t want to get stuck in our tires.”
“It’s been a great experience working with Jimmy,” said Gordy. “He’s definitely a huge help to the company, and he’s just a great individual to have here. He’s willing to help anyone with anything they need. Everybody enjoys working with Jimmy, and he enjoys working with them.”
According to Gary, Gordy and his team work to promote Jimmy’s independence because they understand that he can handle most any job they ask of him by himself; they challenge him to work independently.
“Jimmy is a worker beyond a worker. He is a ball of energy when he is doing something that he enjoys, and will give you 100 percent every day. He’s likable – a people person who genuinely wants to help.”
Kathyrn “Kas” Jasinksi, Penn-Mar Residential Supervisor, who oversees Jimmy’s Penn-Mar home, knows firsthand how much Jimmy likes to help people, work…and make money. He’s her right-hand man at home assisting with home improvement projects and anything that needs to be done at the house.
“The bottom line is, Jimmy has a helping spirit,” said Kas. “He’s the kind of guy who will walk up to perfect strangers at the grocery store and lend them a hand with their bags.”
For Jimmy, there’s nothing better than to be able to help people, and make money at the same time. After all, his dream is to start his own business, and one day be able to give somebody a job.
“In five years from now, I’d like to have people working for me,” he said with a smile.