Changing lives one hot dog at a time: restaurant hires people with disabilities

Posted at 10:17 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 12:17:23-04

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    Columbus, IN (WRTV) — A local restaurant is providing job training and building confidence for people with special needs.

Randy and Robin Lapidus opened “Special Dogs & More” after their daughter developed mental disabilities after going into cardiac arrest. They say she wanted to work, but it was hard for her to find a job because of her limitations.

Through their daughter’s struggles, the couple says they learned there’s an under served group in the community that needs a place to develop in the workforce. That became the inspiration behind their restaurant. “Special Dogs & More” hires people with mental and intellectual disabilities to help train them and teach them skills they can use in their life.

“It’s not just a job where they’re just learning something here, they can take these skills home with them,” Robin said.

Employees clean, separate the inventory and help with the hot dogs.

A study commissioned by the Special Olympics shows only 34 percent of adults with an ID between the ages of 21 and 64 are employed, but that’s something they’re hoping to change.

“It makes you happy, it makes you proud to be part of their success and see them move on,” Robin said.

Robin says they are always accepting new employees so they can help more people develop the skills they need to join the workforce.

“Special Dogs & More” is holding a big event on Saturday called “Never Say Never” on the courthouse lawn in Columbus. The event starts at noon and is a fundraiser to help with DIS, which puts on a prom for those with disabilities.

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