One popular speaker within the disability circuit speaks withdistain about the “Three F’s” to explain where the mentally challenged community is routinely delegated in the work force.  They are food, flowers and filth.  It has been seen as a blight on our community that more creative positions have not been offered or sought for them.  However, as our nation experiences a booming jobless rate, it appears that the jobs usually held by our population remain interestingly secure. 

While I’ve not done any real research, in our area, it is the high-paying construction jobs that have disappeared.  Real estate excesses vanish as the housing market  makes a necessary bubble adjustment.  Politicians encouraged–and even demanded–that bankers make mortgage lending more accessible to lower-and-lower-income clients.  People with little experience or education purchased houses with the expectation that their inflated wages would remain the same; and now our entire nations faces a new, painful reality.

But jobs working with food, flowers and filth chug along at a steady pace, unaffected by the inflation excesses or the disastrous job market.  Employers need people who are willing to take part-time jobs which pay minimum wage.  Those are the positions that we fill. 

  •  Food–While the high-end restaurant business may be hurting, the fast-food chains and moderately-priced eateries are booming.  That’s where our members work best.  Additionally, people are buying more groceries and eating out less.  Grocery stocking, bagging and even cashiers are positions that mentally challenged people fill with skill and delight.
  • Flowers–The increasingly-influential green movement encourages planting and gardening.  Also, people who need to cut their food budgets may be growing their own fruits and vegetables.   This means that the nurseries and garden shops aren’t going out of business but seeing an increase in their sales volume. 
  • Filth–Cleaning up messes made by natural and man-made disasters will always be jobs that are needed.  Whether a man-made disaster is a dirty, road-side bathroom maintained by the county or clean-up from a snow storm, filthy jobs will remain secure unless there is a total collapse in our economy.

The reality is that what seemed like a curse for our population only a few years ago has become a blessing.  In the past year, I’ve spoken openly and honestly to our members about the economy and the budget deficits that all of our states and federal budgets face.  I explained that even though the our economic pictures are gloomy, God is in control of our lives–not the politicians, the legislators, the executive branch or even our parents and families.  We can trust God. 

Our members see the news.  They may even read the papers and connect on the internet.  They understand what is happening in our country.  As our nation slips deeper into debt, as federal, state and country budgets are dominated by red ink, we must be the voices of encouragement and hope for our members.  They are fearful of the future.  We should explain the truth that things are bad.  However, the greater truth is that God love us and he will embrace us with his love, protection and care.  The three F’s are a primary example.