Clayton Bakery Provides Jobs For Those With Disadvantages, Disabilities

Hernan, Trey and Marque at the Clayton Bakery & Cafe. Photos courtesy JCI.

The Clayton Bakery & Cafe has been working with Johnston County Industries (JCI) for 10 years providing employment opportunities to people with disadvantages and disabilities.

The first client they hired gained valuable experience and was able to become employed in another occupation in the community.

Rich Girard, owner of the Clayton Bakery, said that it was a great experience for all involved and that after this client had moved on his mother came into the bakery with tears in her eyes and thanked them for giving her son the opportunity.

The Clayton Bakery & Cafe now has three JCI employees.

Rich, his wife, Jen, and their son, Trey, work with JCI and the clients to provide them with opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Trey trains clients and encourages them to put their mind to learning tasks so they can accomplish the job just like anyone else. He says that the JCI Job Coaches are invaluable in helping the clients if they need assistance with extra training and with communicating instructions.


Hernan is their dishwasher. He keeps the dishes clean and does a great job. He has been given new tasks to try to bring him out of his comfort zone. He is receptive and accepts direction and new challenges. “I meet new people and I think that it’s a great thing,” he said. “Rich and Jen have helped me by giving me this job I like it and Rich kind of jokes around with me, kind of like my brother. This place is great because it feeds people and also brings out happiness in people. It’s a very great place..”

Emily and JCI Job Coach Diane

Emily started working at the bakery over a year ago. She came in with her Job Coach to try out some job duties that were arranged for her and she did a great job.

“She really showed us that she wanted to be here so we created a position for her to work a couple of days a week,” Jen Girard said. “Since then she has been able to work up to cleaning and greasing cake pans and is a food runner. We really feel that she is definitely the face of our business.”

“The customers love her,” Jen added. “She is always smiling and the customers ask about her by name if she is not here. It has really been a positive for the bakery and Emily.”

When asked what she likes about her job, Emily said, “The people, my Job Coach who helps me, and the coffee. I get to wash the cake pans and grease them and I also get to take food to the customers.”

Marque and JCI Job Coach Joan

Marque is the most recent hire at the bakery. He says, “I clean, take out the trash and wipe down tables, and make sure the place is up to par. This is my first job and I really like it here.”

“The people who come in are cool and so are the people who work here. They talk with you, work with you, and they help you,” Marque said. “I love that about the job, it’s like a family job here. I’ve been through a couple of things in my life, a surgery and will be having another one, and when I have a hard time with something they help me here. I am so thankful and honored to have this job. I really appreciate them giving me the opportunity to work here. I love it here and I am truly grateful.”

“One of the reasons why we like to use JCI to hire is because we create positions for people who may be having a difficult time finding employment, or it may be their first job,” Rich Girard said. “We teach them to be a part of our team and accommodate any needs they may have to succeed in their job. We teach them to be responsible and teach them job skills they will use over their lifetime. These people are a part of our community and we need to support them.”

“I say to employers; create a position. There are a lot of things we can do in the community to give somebody a chance in life even with the many different challenges people have, but there is a job for everybody and sometimes you can take a two to three-hour shift and bring somebody in for that position and it does help a business. What we’ve done is created some positions, we’ve taken some tasks that we have to pay somebody to do regardless and we have hired people to do these while we teach them new skills and help them to grow in their abilities. I also encourage employers to think outside the box regarding skills sets that you are accustomed to when you are hiring, with just a little more time and a little more patience you will be see lots of successes. I’d say it’s good more for our souls than it is anything . . . at the end of the day, it is very rewarding.”

Clayton Bakery & Cafe is family-owned and operated in Clayton.

Reprinted with permission from Johnston County Industries