Mentally And Physically Challenged Workers Say Thanks

Picayune Industries said thank you to the companies who help them give jobs to the mentally and physically handicapped. Picayune Industries has enabled mentally and physically challenged adults to find employment for years.

Thursday afternoon, as part of National Mentally Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the work center gave businesses and industry leaders a big pat on the back for giving them work.

Carla Spiers packages flatware for fast food restaurants in the Picayune area. She says despite her disability, it didn't take her long to develop a system to get the job done.

Carla was born with cerebral palsy. She's worked at Picayune Industries for nine years and says she loves her job there.

"The main thing that I really like about my job is I like to help people. People with disabilities can do anything normal people can do," she said.

Other workers at the center clean survival suits for technicians at the National Data Buoy Center at Stennis Space Center. Technicians say cleaning the suits carries a big responsibility. That's because the suits protect technicians from the elements at sea.

"The cleaner it is, and the serviceability that they check on the suits, that ensures that the person wearing it will be warm if the material is clean. If it's dirty, it impairs the materials to keep the technician warm," said Leonard Quigley, an electrical technician at the National Data Buoy Center.

Right now, 35 people with mental or physical disabilities are employed at the center or have jobs out in the community.

Becky Johnson, a Picayune Industries Supervisor told WLOX news, "It gives them much more than a paycheck. It gives them self esteem, self confidence, things that money can't buy. Here at Picayune Industries we try to concentrate on the person's abilities and not there disabilities."

Lisa Lumpkin is part of a crew that makes rubber gaskets for a vacuum cleaner producing company.

"I love to work here it's like a home to me," Lumpkin said.

And Thursday afternoon Picayune Industries said thanks to those companies who help keep that home going.

In all, 31 individuals and business leaders received the "Helping Hand Award" for supporting the center over the years.