– By Michael McLamb, Direct Support Team Lead
Perhaps the single greatest characteristic which separates UDI from other organizations of its kind is the job training component. If given the opportunity to ask our individuals about their experience, you would find that most clients view UDI as a place of employment rather than a day program. When out in the community, our individuals use phrases such as “I work at UDI” or “I love my job at UDI.”
Individuals with disabilities, just like all of us, desire a place where they belong. They want to feel like they are contributing to something that is greater than themselves. They crave the satisfaction of putting in a day of hard work and then being rewarded for it. Our clients receive their reward every two weeks on a day bursting with excitement and anticipation, “Pay Day.”
Pay Day is something that I wish every person who supports UDI could experience for themselves. I’ve worked at UDI since March of 2020 and it never gets old. As the DSP Team Lead, one of the great joys of my job is that I am responsible for handing out paychecks every two weeks on Fridays.
The tone is set from the first moment our clients walk through the door at 7:30.
“Michael, we get paid today.”
“We’re getting our checks today.”
“It’s Pay Day!”
These are just a few of the phrases that I’m likely to hear as individuals are filing through the door on Pay Day. There’s a palpable excitement in the air.
As the day draws to a close, the anticipation begins to escalate. Now individuals are watching my movements for the moment that I walk upstairs to pick up their paychecks. When that time finally comes, I’m greeted with smiles and cheers as I make my special deliveries. Several individuals are likely to stop me and ask, “Michael, how much did I make?”
Everyone loves to get paid, but I don’t think anyone loves to get paid as much as our clients do. It’s an opportunity for our individuals to experience a sense of pride for what they accomplished. Throughout the week, staff are encouraging their group members, “Keep working so you can have a big paycheck.” One client will respond, “Hey look at my barrel. Look at all that money!” Another individual exclaims, “Cha-Ching! Cha-Ching!” and another one “Money! Money!” Now finally on Pay Day, the fruits of their labors are realized. It’s a special moment that I’m thankful to experience. And I’m thankful for the Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Company for helping make it possible.