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Bakersfield Arc hopes to help people with intellectual disabilities find jobs

"Mr. Feras is doing a great job here."
Feras Manna
Posted at 5:03 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 21:43:09-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — People with intellectual disabilities have been often overlooked for jobs, but as a local organization knows, all it takes is a little training and practice to help them with a career.

At 23-years-old it has been a journey for Feras Manna, but he says he’s always excited to be here and ready to work.

Making sure things look “really good” is just one of Feras Manna’s job. “I also greet customers and fix the items.”

Feras has been at Samco for a year now as an intern, but when that opportunity ended and a position opened up, he proved to be up for the promotion.

“That makes me awesome inside, because I am the direct hire at Samco, because now I am not an intern no more, I am the employee.”

Feras now restocks the cups, wipes down surfaces, and arranges the products but before getting here, he went through the supportive employment program with Bakersfield Arc, an organization working to help people with intellectual disabilities become work ready.

“So, communication skills, good hygiene, how to deal with difficult customers, how to provide great customer service and as you can see Mr. Feras is doing a great job here at Samco food store,” said Jaime Valdez Jr., Senior Director of Job Development at Bakersfield Arc.

He’s not the only one who thinks so.

“He gets compliments from the managers; they wish that everybody would work like him,” said Roxy Hernandez, District Manager at Samco Food Store.

Hernandez said the company is also working with three other people from Bakersfield Arc, adding they are always on time and eager to work, but beyond the work ethic, seeing Feras becoming independent brings hope.

“My grandkids have disabilities and knowing that somebody can help them is very important.”

It is knowing that like Feras, her grandchildren too can be independent, and that is the goal. That is why Bakersfield Arc continues to help even after they get hired.

“When they transition from an internship position to a direct hire. We want to make sure it is a smooth transition, that Mr. Feras is happy, the employer is happy, the support that Feras needs,” said Valdez.

Coworkers who have been helping him say he's already on his way there.

“A couple times he was asking us what to do, so we made a list, now he sometimes doesn’t even have to look at his list,” said Samantha Magana.

Magana adds he brings an energy to the work environment that makes her days better.

Not everyone has been able to see that, Jaime Valdez shares when he first met Feras he was struggling to get where he is now but now that he is here, it is pure pride.

“I was excited to pay my bills, my rent, or to buy stuff or go shopping,” said Feras.

Bakersfield Arc said they are always looking for more companies to partner with so they can continue helping individuals like Feras, become independent and thrive.