As a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, people with special needs are close to Amanda Cartagine’s heart — which is exactly why she’s made it a priority to hire people of all types in her Greenville, South Carolina restaurant, Pizza Inn.
“Some of us have different color hair, some of us have tattoos, some of us have different walks, different personalities, but as a unit we’re family,” says Amanda, as the proud matriarch of the bunch.
“We parents with special needs [children] are always faced with breaking down barriers, stigmas, teaching other people that our children are more like them, than different,” Amanda told WYFF4 News. “If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace, when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable.”
“In today’s time where we get caught up in the day-to-day life and the busyness of it all, they make you step back and slow down,” she later added.
So when one customer treated one of her employees with autism in an extremely rude manner, she was NOT happy.
The customer had asked the employee to fill up the lettuce bowl at the salad bar, but it was not something that employee had been specifically trained to do. The workers at Pizza Inn each are trained on their own special skills and jobs, and this particular request was not one that the autistic employee was familiar with.
“My manager explained to him the situation privately, ‘That’s not his job.’ We’ve trained him to do this and there are special circumstances,’ and the customer was still not happy,” said Amanda.
Though the manager kindly explained the situation, the customer’s rage escalated.
Just before storming out of the restaurant, he screamed that Pizza Inn needs to hang a sign that warns others about their disabled employees.
“These are like my kids, and it made me angry,” said Amanda of the incident. “But I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across.
So hanging a sign up was EXACTLY what she did…
It read, “We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire ALL of God’s children. –INN Team”
The sign was an excellent way to uplift her employee’s morale and proudly let everyone in Greenville know that each and every one of God’s children, regardless of different abilities, is welcome to apply at Pizza Inn.
Way to go, Amanda, for sending a positive message loud and clear while cleverly slamming hate in the face. The world needs more business owners like you!