Employment Helps Southgate Resident Flourish

Valentin poses in his Bojangle' uniform before a work shift.

Valentin Zadorowzhniy, a resident of Southgate group home in Monroe, proudly shows his work uniforms as he gets ready for a shift at Bojangles’.

Valentin Zadorowzhniy, a resident of Southgate group home in Monroe, will admit with a chuckle the best part of having a job is the paycheck. 

Valentin is enjoying lifethriving in part to being employed. He contends that his job provides a work environment for socialization, fosters independence and provides opportunities to make new friends – all of which are equally appealing to him. 

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics released its 2018 figures, noting that the rate of employment for those with a disability rose slightly to 19.1 percentThe 2017 tally indicated the disability employment rate at 18.7 percent. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) dates back over 70 years ago when the U.S. Congress recognized the first week in October as a time to urge businesses to employ individuals with disabilities. 

Valentin’s work schedule is busy with his job at Bojangles in MonroeHe proudly wears his uniform, name tag and hat when getting ready for a shift. Valentin said with help from Southgate Behavioral Specialist Thomas Horne, last May he filled out the application for Bojangles’, then interviewed and was offered a position 

He works an average of 25-27 hours each week at Bojangles’ cooking, prepping food including making biscuits and washing dishes. Residential Team Leader Anterria Baker noted that securing employment has resulted in Valentin improving his social skills and taking control of his life. Valentin acts as his own guardian, taking an active role in decisions made as well as determining goals. 

Baker added that the Southgate staff does what is necessary for the residents to succeed in being exemplary employees and practice good work habits. Valentin was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the staff helps him with what he needs to be successful: “We support him with transportation to and from work, and we teach him to make the best decisions that control his behavior.”  

“I love it so much. I am not alone and I am glad I am with my friends,” Valentin said of working at his jobs, adding that his co-workers make him laugh. “Everybody loves me at work.” 

Valentin is happy at this stage of life but looks toward the future when he would like to pursue living independently possibly in an apartment and obtaining his driver’s license. 

The 33-year-old has been a resident of Southgate since 2017 and is the second oldest of 13 children. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. “I get along with all my brothers and sisters. They are very nice to me,” he said, adding that he often visits his family who live nearby.