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Meet James, Hersheypark Employee

People come in different sizes, shapes, colors and abilities. It’s easy to see the shapes, sizes and colors; it is not as easy to see people’s differing abilities.

I usually refer to abilities as “gifts” as I feel that is what our abilities often are – gifts. Some people know their gifts early in life and plan their career path around those gifts. I’ve always considered those people as lucky. Others struggle to find or express their gifts – often for years.

That brings me to James, a graduate of The Vista School and now part of Vista Adult Services, who works for Hersheypark in the Retail Department.

Since James is non-verbal, it is very difficult for him to tell you what he can do. But, he has some amazing gifts. Through the efforts of The Vista School and Hersheypark staff, James has found his perfect job – pleasing both his employee and himself! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Last year, James made more than 1,000 character buckets and more than 900 candy towers that were sold in the Hersheypark retail shops. These are popular souvenir items and they “fly off the shelves.” James’ work keeps the shelves stocked and the customers happy.

Liz Hendrix, Director of Retail at Hersheypark, oversees the work that James does and shared some information about him.

In addition to making the character buckets and candy towers, James rotates candy by expiration dates in all the retail shops, sets up stores, rolls and stocks towels, and makes a twice daily mail run.The retail team likes and respects James for the work he does with them. Other members of the team know that James LOVES CLASSIC ROCK music. So when James is working, his colleagues turn the radio channel to classic rock.

Last year, Liz suggested James wrap Christmas presents for display and she said he did the wrapping with precision skill- corners perfect! He has an innate ability to reproduce what he sees.

This is all good. But, honestly as a mother and grandmother, the story that Liz told me that affected me the most was James’ mother’s reaction to his work. His mother just kept repeating, “James,you did all of this…I am so proud of you!” She always knew he could be successful- he just had to find the right place. (I think you can say that about most people, can’t you?)

It is so important that both employers and employees) recognize that people have different skills and a specific skill can be VERY valuable to a targeted department or need within the organization.

I think this is a wonderful story about the great results when a people work together. I love this piece.

HE&R is doing good work on so many levels. It is the hope of HR Team and the Successabilites Team that other companies will see the work being done here and expand their teams to include people like James. To learn more about employment opportunities at Hersheypark and other properties, visit www.HersheyJobs.com and follow Hershey Jobs on Twitter and Instagram.

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WHP-TV 21 Morning Anchor Sherry Christian was so moved by this story that she wrote and aired a piece about James. You can view it here: