sasi individual earns first ever paycheck

Laura Hoeh has spent many hours inside Berner Farms’ market, nursery and greenhouses as a customer and a volunteer. But recently, she added the title of employee.

Laura, a special needs individual who attends sasi’s East Aurora Day Habilitation program, impressed the staff so much at Berner Farms with her work ethic during her volunteer hours that they hired her to work part-time on the weekends. She has already earned her first paycheck, which brought out the bright, infectious smile Laura is known for.

Laura has worked in sasi’s Community Prevocational Program for several years. It was through that program that she started volunteering at Berner Farms. When manager Patty Casillo saw how well Laura interacted with the customers, she offered her the job.

“I saw so much growth from her,” Casillo said. “I just felt a connection with her and felt that she would do well for the company and with the girls she works with.”

In her new role, Laura sorts and stocks produce, helps customers, weeds and waters the plants, and does general cleaning in the store.

“I am very proud of Laura’s work ethic,” said Mark Cordz, the team leader at East Aurora Day Hab. “She attends CPV four days per week and works every Saturday and Sunday at Berner Farms. When she accepted the weekend job, I asked her if she planned to take one or two days off from CPV every week. Laura said, “Why would I? I like volunteering at CPV, and now I’m making money, too!” In this day and age, with so many of us working additional hours at sasi, it was refreshing to hear that Laura so values the contributions she makes as a volunteer that she chose to continue her full CPV schedule.”

When asked about how she likes her new job, Laura said, “I feel proud. It gets pretty busy in the store on weekends, but I like working there.”