NORMAN — Disabled adults don't want special treatment, but they do want to be treated like everyone else, says the manager of ReRun Junction, a thrift store run by developmentally disabled adults.
At ReRun Junction, employees with disabilities greet customers, sort donations, stock shelves and operate a cash register. They earn a salary, pay taxes and gain a sense of purpose, manager Dolly Triplett said.
The store at 325 E Comanche St. and its employees received the city's annual Human Rights Award and were recognized during last week's city council meeting.
Kay Ham, chairman of the city's Human Rights Commission, said the store has empowered disadvantaged adults to reach their full potential.
“It gives them a sense of pride and purpose, and of a job well done,” she said.
Nathan Putnam, who has worked at the store nearly two years, said he loves greeting customers and showing them around.
“Everyone is so friendly here. I believe in this store. People with disabilities deserve to work just like everyone else,” Putnam said.
Dorothy Akerman, whose daughter Sandy works at the store, serves as a job coach.
“It's a wonderful organization. I wish more people knew we were here,” she said.
Putnam said the store offers a lot of bargains, holding a $5 bag sale daily. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
About 21 adults with varying degrees of disability work at the store, Triplett said.
“Everyone has a job to do, and everyone takes pride in the job they do,” she said.
Triplett said she loves working in the store “because every day is different. No day is the same.”
Human Rights Commissioner Lisa Schmidt, who nominated the organization for the 2012 Human Rights Award, said the nonprofit store is a Big Five project of Oklahoma People First, a statewide advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities.
Disabled adults “want exactly what everyone wants: to support themselves, to be independent, and for their voices to be heard,” Schmidt said.
ReRun Junction allows many of them to accomplish these objectives, she said.
“We want to make an impact — a positive impact on the community,” said Lisa Eubanks, who helped accept the award at the city council meeting on behalf of ReRun Junction.