Debbie and Matt's Sweet Success

May 2nd, 2019

Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla... When you walkinto Dairy Queen and Nothing Bundt Cakes in Chattanooga you will find a diversegroup of mouth-watering flavors. Even better, you will find a diverse workplacewhere people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities work as a teamtoward shared business goals. 

You can’t buy smiles this big, but you can buy ice cream and cake and that’s pretty much the same thing!

Debbie Chadwick and Matthew (Matt) Ossewaarde have both continuously overcome many barriers to success from the moment a doctor gave them a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Refusing to let an extra chromosome define their lives, they alongside their families set out to create their own recipe for sweet success.
Individuals with disabilities, though they are 20% of America’s population, experience unemployment at twice the rate of people without disabilities. Debbie and Matt participate in Orange Grove’s Employment Services Program where the overall goal is to match jobs with every individual who wants to work and both have earned sweet competitive employment jobs in the Chattanooga area. Our job developers and job coaches work hard to ensure the success of both the individual and the employer: the individual by providing necessary supports; the employer by helping them meet their business goals through their employees. Debbie works at Dairy Queen in Hixson and Matt works at Nothing Bundt Cakes in the Hamilton Place area. Both have defied the odds and are exceeding all expectations in their competitive employment positions. 

True competitors, Debbie and Matt participate in sports year-round offering many life lessons transferable to employment like discipline, teamwork, and time management.

Debbie started competing in the Special Olympics at only seven years old. Debbie’s mother, Mary Chadwick, knew she was bound for success when she courageously attempted the high dive for her first time. “My heart was racing as she climbed up the ladder, but I could see the pure determination in her eyes,” recalled Mary. She fearlessly walked straight to the edge of the diving board and, without a second thought, dove straight into the pool!

Matt’s Direct Support Professional, Amail Rizvic, loves watching him thrive in competition. “I will never forget the moment that he taught me that no matter what limitations you either are given or set yourself, with a mind driven to succeed, you can do anything you want,” recalled Amail referring to when he saw Matt play softball for the first time. Due to mobility limitations, Matt bats with one arm and experiences difficulties with running. Despite these limitations, when the time came for him to bat he approached the plate with pure confidence and awaited the pitch. The first pitch was a strike but, unphased, he resumed his stance, and then... BAM! The ball went flying through the air to the outfield while Matt took off and made it to second base. From the stands, Amail and Matt’s parents could see him grinning ear to ear.

Determination, courage, perseverance… Life hands us all a variety of circumstances, or ingredients; what we choose to do with those ingredients shapes our character and makes up the recipe for our lives.  

At Dairy Queen, you can find Debbie using the ingredients of courage and determination to thrive in competitive employment. She takes pride in ensuring a sanitary environment for customers to enjoy their ice cream and has formed strong bonds with her coworkers. Frequent customers look forward to seeing Debbie’s warm smile, and her enthusiastic welcome makes all the difference in their dining experience.

Matt’s perseverance helped land him the job at Nothing Bundt Cakes. Owners Dan and Melinda Mason have been strong supporters of Orange Grove since opening the business and were thrilled to have Matt join their team. Matt has the important task of assembling the box that protects the delicious Bundt cake on its journey from the store to the consumer. Matt loves the independence his job gives him and proudly uses his debit card to make his own purchases.
Whatever the recipe may be for a successful life, Debbie and Matt have discovered it. With more love for a stranger than a kid has for cake, we could all benefit from Debbie and Matt’s recipes for sweet success.

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