HARTFORD, Conn. — Inside Legrand Wiremold in West Hartford, a group of four workers package electrical outlets into boxes.

The four, who work with smiles on their faces, are clients of Favarh, a nonprofit based in Canton serving the Farmington Valley and beyond by providing services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One of those services is finding them places to work.

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Heather Baltronis, a 32-year-old from Granby, has been working at Legrand for six months now. It’s a job she said she’s happy to have, because without Favarh, finding a job proves challenging.

“I think it’s good being able to come here and earn money,” Baltronis said. “It’s awesome.”

Favarh is trying right now to find more jobs for people like Baltronis, and they’re doing so by offering a $500 incentive reward to anyone who provides a suitable workplace for their clients.

“Right now, we have a number of people who don’t have jobs,” said Bill Neagus, Favarh’s business developer. “We want to get them out in the community. They want to work.”

Qualified leads would consist of providing jobs for four people for at least 20 hours a week, Monday through Friday.

Neagus said these are often repetitious jobs others might find mundane, but to their clients, it’s an opportunity to receive responsibility and feel like part of a team.

“They are extremely focused on what they’re doing,” Neagus said. “They don’t bother with office gossip or watching the clock or anything like that. They just really enjoy working. They’re extremely focused on their job.”

Mike Kijak, the plant manager at Legrand, said the experience of partnering with workers from Favarh over the last year and a half has been positive.

“Having them on site is greatly appreciated,” Kijak said. “The workforce loves having them here. They do good work. It’s a good relationship.”

There are other benefits to employers, Neagus said. Workers can only get paid up to minimum wage. He said that creates an incentive for employers to hire people with intellectual and development disabilities. Otherwise, they might not find a job at all.

“The reason for that is to encourage employers to hire people with developmentally and intellectual disabilities — and it works,” Neagus said.

Baltronis, who is happy and proud to take home a paycheck from her 20-hour a week job, said it would be good if Favarh can find jobs like hers for other people because of how rewarding her experience has been.

“It’s really important to find more jobs for people,” Baltronis said. “It feels really good to come here and be able to work with people.”

Her co-workers, 36-year-old Jessica Bouchard, 24-year-old Alison Hung and 23-year-old Nick Carroll are also satisfied with working at Legrand.

“It pays good money,” Bouchard said. “It pays for everything.”

And all four of them said they appreciate the fact that they get to come to work every day of the week, be part of a large team, participate in morning exercises with their co-workers and leave with a paycheck.

“I love it,” Carroll said. “It’s a new experience for me.”

© 2016 Hartford Courant
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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