Yearlong initiative to help employees like ‘Dan the Man’

Walker: Initiative not about charity; about helping people, businesses succeed
Yearlong initiative to help employees like ‘Dan the Man’
Dan the Man

Yearlong initiative to help employees like ‘Dan the Man’

A yearlong push to provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities was outlined in Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State address Wednesday night.

“All throughout 2014 I will highlight employers who find the unique abilities and hire people with disabilities, as well as organizations, which help people with disabilities grow their skills and find meaningful work,” Walker said in Wednesday night’s speech.

The governor said the effort, called Better Bottom Line, is not about charity but is about helping people and businesses succeed.

The man meticulously sweeping the floors at McGlynn Pharmacy, in Stoughton, is sort of a local celebrity. Dan “Dan the Man” Blomgren has worked at McGlynn Pharmacy for the last seven years as its custodian. He’s developmentally disabled but said that’s not important.

“I love it here. I love the people and the coworkers I work with. I think it’s cool they call me Dan the Man,” Blomgren said. “I’m just a regular adult. I can do stuff by myself.”

The routine-oriented work is a good fit for Blomgren and the pharmacy.

“He does a good job and he is very excited about being the custodian or maintenance man, which is all you want out of any employee in any position,” McGlynn Pharmacy owner Dan McGlynn said.

Walker announced an initiative Wednesday to help grow the state’s workforce by helping more people like Blomgren find jobs.

“Dane County has over 1,000 people who are working in supported employment, and in 2013 they’re projected to bring in $4 million in wages,” Advanced Employment Executive Director Christine Witt said.

Advanced Employment specializes in helping train people with cognitive and physical disabilities for work. Witt said the governor’s plan calls for an additional nine counselors.

“All over the state there’s individuals who want to work in the community, who want to work and have that opportunity to give them job development and coaching and training, and that’s something they wouldn’t have had,” Witt said.