Partner Profile: Mariano’s

James Haugen (center) with Vocational Specialists Eden DeGenova and Joe Karales

When James Haugen, Human Resources Manager for Mariano’s, was honored at Orchard Village’s Golf Classic, his simple statement—”We’re all meant to work”—truly resonated. Mariano’s stores have given many Orchard Village vocational clients the opportunity to work. As Mariano’s Associates, Orchard Village clients have bagged and restocked groceries, corralled carts, performed janitorial work, and more.

Key to the success of the partnership is Haugen’s—and the company’s—willingness to work with clients to find the position that is the best fit for his or her abilities.

Mariano’s managers don’t see a single stumble as reason to get discouraged about an employee. They see it as an opportunity to find a better placement.

The Glenview Mariano’s, where Haugen is HR manager, currently employs eight Orchard Village clients, as well as several other individuals with a variety of disabilities. “These associates are good employees,” Haugen says. “We can depend on them… We’re all about customer service, and we need people who can be warm and friendly with customers.”

Haugen continues: “It’s nice to see not just how having these associates working at the store works for Mariano’s, but also how it works for and enriches the lives of the associates. I believe we’re all meant to work and to use our minds and our talents, and I don’t want people to be cheated out of that simply because of their different learning styles or disabilities. If we can help people find meaningful work, we’re just being good people.”