Clara Palma-Reyes (left) and Sara Ungson work at Southstar Drug stores while Brian Julian Borleo (second from left) and Ryan Poblete work at the company's head office. See them in the video below.
Last March, we did a well-received story on the hiring program of Southstar Drug in collaboration with Unilab Foundation's Project Inclusion. Those who reached out thanked us for showing that people with special needs and disabilities have tremendous potential to be independent and productive individuals.
As we learned, Southstar Drug's differently-abled employees have made a positive impact on customers. After all, when you go to a drug store, it’s not usually a happy occasion -- a loved one is likely sick, or his health is in need of attention. But, as Michael Sabino, HR and admin division manager of Southstar Drug, and Christine Tueres, the drugstore chain's deputy general manager, told us, employing people with disabilities (PWD) has had an uplifting effect on customers. (Watch video below.)
Michael puts it this way, ''Nakakalma sila when they see that a PWD inside the store is serving them.”
Customers are not only ones who have benefitted. Southstar management has seen marked improvement in customer service with employees now showing more empathy for the people they serve. Both Michael and Christine agree that PWDs have taught their co-workers patience, understanding, and open-mindedness.
The employees have also quickly discovered their well-meaning assistance is not often needed. As Michael points, these differently-abled individuals have amazed (and stumped!) those they work with because of their unique skill sets. Let's just say the PWDs exceeded everyone's expectations.
As Ceny Ungson, whose daughter Sara works at the Maybunga, Pasig branch of Southstar Drug, "You should never underestimate a special needs child.