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Hiring People With Intellectual Disabilities Are Helping Businesses Too

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- If you're an employer looking for hard working and dedicated workers and looking to make a difference in someone's life -- one local organization could help you.

Penn-Mar Human Services is dedicated to matching the right person with the right job. And it just so happens that the right people for the job may be people who have intellectual disabilities.

"Penn-Mar is a human service provider for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We work throughout both the state of Maryland and Pennsylvania to provide a wide array of services and support to help people participate in their community," said Greg Miller, President and CEO of Penn-Mar human services.

Amanda Otto, who has an intellectual disability, has been working at the Towson Petsmart for 18 years, matched by Penn-Mar with the store.

"I love everybody here. They're like family to me. They give me abilities, strength and mobility to do things I have never done before. They comfort me when something goes wrong and they usually try to help me figure it out," Otto, a sales associate, said.

She is breaking stereotypes, working in the fish department and the cat and kitten adoption center.

"Amanda is a joy to have around the store. She always has a smile on her face. She's always high fiving a lot of the associates around the store. She's just a pleasure to be around, that's for sure...." said Al Haddaway, store leader at the Towson Petsmart.

Amanda works at the store every Friday and the customers love her too.

"I've known Amanda about three years. She's got a way of making you relax -- no matter what day you come in," Al Lynch, a customer at Petsmart. "I don't care how depressed you are, she's got away of making you just talk and making you think everything's okay."

Penn-Mar said finding dedicated employees brings value to the marketplace at a time when employers are looking for dependable workers.

"When we see Amanda and many others achieving success in their life we're there to help, its not because of us," said Miller. "We're a catalyst. It's just seeing them walk through those doors and those opportunities that maybe we've helped open up the opportunity but they're the ones that take the step through it and they're the ones that ultimately make it successful."

Penn-Mar supports about 400 people on a daily basis, but their services in other areas touch thousands of people across Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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