Aspiring to Make a Difference

For 75 years, Aspire of Western New York has been assisting individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential and live as independently as possible. Wegmans has partnered with Aspire since 2015 on their World of Work (WOW) program, which provides high school-aged students with disabilities the opportunity to gain workforce training. Rachel, a Wegmans Aspire coach, has overseen the program at Wegmans Alberta Drive store for many years. Each semester, she mentors a group of WOW students for half a day during the work week, guiding them through different projects at the store.

“I think it’s huge to give kids the opportunity to break outside of the school and see what it’s like to be in a work environment and learn different skills that they wouldn’t learn at school,” said Rachel.

The program teaches students skills they can use in the workforce and in life, from communication skills to vocational skills. As the semester progresses, students gain independence and confidence as they navigate new situations.

“Our partnership with Wegmans is priceless,” said Leslie, employment specialist with Aspire of WNY. “Many of our families shop at Wegmans, and the students go with their families to shop. Now the students are able to come here, learn to work, and potentially gain employment here.”

Keionte is a graduate of the WOW program, and recently celebrated his three-year work anniversary with Wegmans as a sub shop employee. Rachel mentored Keionte during his time in the program and has enjoyed watching him grow from student to employee.

“It’s really kind of fun being in the Aspire program. I learned my communication skills, how to stay positive, and being a hard worker,” said Keionte. “I’m very proud of myself. I’m so glad I get to work here.”

Wegmans is proud to partner with organizations like Aspire to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to learn new skills and build a rewarding career.