AbilityOne employee preserves history

By Tatiana Peralta 12/02/2021
AbilityOne employee preserves history

Michael Orman’s passion for history is tied with his skills as a leader through his job at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Site Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For over 25 years, Michael has maintained and cleaned the grounds of the facility as the lead janitor, a job he considers a great privilege.  

The presidential museum also serves as the burial place of the 38th President of the United States – Gerald R. Ford. The high-profile institution brings in thousands of visitors each year, including members of the community, tourists, and federal government officials for special events. “The prominence of this building makes my job all the more important,” Michael said. 

Every day, Michael gets to relish in the history of the museum. He admires the artifacts, replicas, and memorabilia that are housed in the building. Aside from leading a group of six people with disabilities that keep the site in tip-top shape, Michael is always willing to share his knowledge of history with both team members and museum visitors alike.  

Michael is employed through The Hope Network, one of the nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica® network. He is responsible for assigning tasks, conducting quality inspections, and ensuring his staff members have all the tools they need to succeed. Michael is always encouraging his employees to learn new skills, even if they are not directly related to their jobs. In fact, he trained them to use special machinery to clean restrooms, strip and refinish floors, and shampoo carpets – duties they share nightly.  

A commitment to the highest standards and customer satisfaction has led Michael to success. With the support of his managers, Michael quickly worked his way up from staff member to leading the night shift. His dedication to sharing knowledge extends into his work when he can train others and grow them into leaders.  

“Michael had his own set of challenges when he started here, which he has worked really hard to overcome,” said Jennie Williams, Michael’s supervisor. “He has a fabulous work ethic, and I can always rely on him. If he doesn’t know what to do, he calls. I just can’t say enough about him. He’s an excellent employee and never leaves the museum if the work isn’t done.”  

The AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, enabled Michael to move up the ladder and inspire others.  

“The AbilityOne Program has provided a lot for me and my family,” he said. “Without this job, I don’t know where I would be in life right now. The Hope Network put the confidence in me that made me who I am today. This job has allowed me to buy a couple of houses, save my own money, and have the opportunity to possibly retire early and spend more time with my grandkids.” 

Michael’s passion for both the museum and his job makes him a key player during major events. As soon as The Hope Network receives notice that something is being planned, Michael is one of the first people they call. From that moment on, he ensures everything is set up and ready to go -- including setting up the kitchen and leaving notes of encouragement for his teammates.  

“I always hope my night goes really well and that there are no issues or problems,” he said. “I usually just go in and concentrate. Sometimes we set up for big events and parties, so if we have a big event that can be stressful. But we do our best. Some of the events include important people that we get the chance to interact with, but for the most part we want to be out of sight and out of mind focused on our job.” 

Michael’s favorite part of the job is when he arrives to set up and talk with his employees to see how their lives are going. According to his supervisor, “Understanding their circumstances, combined with his innate ability to lead, makes Michael the best fit to supervise the team.” 

Want to learn more about how people with disabilities in the SourceAmerica nonprofit network are breaking barriers? Check out our Success Stories and Videos.